15 Solar Facts You Should Know

by Zachary Shahan.

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

If you’ve missed many of the articles we’ve published over the past couple of months, I figured it was a good time to catch you up on some things. Below are 15 solar statistics or key facts that I think are worth your consideration:

1. About of the solar PV installed around the world was installed within the last 2½ years. In the US, the number was 68% in the last 2½ years. (There’s a reason or two for that.)

Credit: GTM Research/SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight

Credit: GTM Research/SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight

2. US solar panel installations smaller than or equal to 10kW in size dropped in price approximately 14% in 2012.

3. A record number of solar modules were shipped last quarter (Q2 2013). 21% more solar modules were shipped in Q2 2013 than in Q2 2012 by the top 20 solar module providers. (There’s a reason or two for that.)

4. The cost of solar panels has fallen approximately 100 times over since 1977, and solar panels today are about half as cheap as they were in 2008.

5. The average American who went solar back in 2011 (when solar was much more expensive), will probably save about $20,080 off their net electricity costs over 20 years thanks to that decision (that’s $20,080 after paying off the cost of the solar power system).

Infographic Credit: One Block Off The Grid

Infographic Credit: One Block Off The Grid

6. The average Californian who went solar in 2011 will probably save about $34,260 over 20 years.

7. The average New Yorker who went solar at that time will probably save $31,166, the average Floridian $33,284, and the average Texan $20,960… and that’s only if their solar systems don’t last more than 20 years (some solar systems in the field today have been working to factory specs for over 30 years).

solar energy cost

Credit: Cost of Solar

8. The average Hawaiian who went solar in 2011 will probably save about $64,769 over 20 years, getting their money back after 3–5 years and then having free electricity for as long as the panels are on their roofs.

.are solar panels worth it hawaii

9. Solar power offers a better return on investment (ROI) than many “good investments” for tens or hundreds of millions of Americans. Homeowners, on average, can get a better ROI from going solar than from the S&P 500 stock index (considered a very good investment) in over 25% states now. In ⅔ of states, solar offers a better average ROI than 30-year treasury bonds. In 86% of states, your likely solar ROI beats a 5-year CD (certificate of deposit). Check out the story linked above for a full infographic on these matters, including state-by-state ROI.

10. Not surprisingly, most people go solar because of the financial benefits, not for the environment. Check out the funny video below about that, and check out the story linked above for 3 more videos along those lines.

11. It’s not just the rich going solar, but actually many average-income households.

.top solar cities

12. Many people can actually go solar for $0 or close to $0 down. Seriously. In over a dozen states, there’s the solar leasing or solar PPA option discussed in that story, but word on the street is that there are also $0 loans available for people wanting to go solar.

13. People of all political and religious stripes go solar. Conservatives, moderates, and liberals; religious and non-religious people; as well as a high proportion of military veterans.

14. Solar energy advantages beat solar energy disadvantages 8 to 0.

15. The advantages of solar power are projected to more than double total US solar power capacity within the next few years. Solar is projected to be the #2 source of new power capacity in the US in 2013. Companies such as Walmart, IKEA, Google, Apple, Walgreens, and Kohl’s are going solar to a big degree. (There’s a reason or two for that….)

In other words, if you can go solar and you aren’t doing so, you might want to go in for an insanity check.

Advantages of solar -- money!

Money! (Photo Credit: Cayusa | CC BY-NC)

Join the US solar power rooftop revolution!

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This article, 15 Solar Facts You Should Know, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar

by Zachary Shahan.

.

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

–> See how much money solar power could save you!

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the attractiveness of a place for renewable energy or solar energy investment, and to evaluate the best solar states. Of course, it depends on what factors and assumptions you take into account, as well as what segment of the market you are actually evaluating.

One of the leading evaluators of such markets is Ernst & Young (EY). The “professional services firm” recently released its most up-to-date renewable energy attractiveness indices for the US, including a solar energy index. The report includes solar market data for 2012 as well as a well-researched ranking of states by their solar energy investment attractiveness. The overall summary is clear, as we have been writing for months here on CostofSolar.com: the US solar market is booming.

US Solar Market Booming

“In 2012 the US installed 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 1,300 MW coming in Q4 alone, surpassing both annual and quarterly records. Even with falling costs the dollar value of the market size of the US solar industry grew 34% in 2012,” EY writes. “The cumulative total of solar PV in the US is now at 7,221 MW, with cumulative PV installations exceeding 300,000 individual units.”

A new solar panel installation is now occurring every 4 minutes in the US, according to an analysis from GTM Research.

Solar Leasing Is Hot

As I’ve reported a few times previously, solar leasing is hot. This is partly due to the fact that residential solar power has become quite cheap, and partly due to the fact that people are attracted to $0 down purchasing options, especially when the products (i.e., solar panels) save them money from Day 1. This makes going solar a no-brainer (even more than it already is).

EY writes: “Third-party ownership or leasing of rooftop solar PV systems in the US accounted for more than 50% of the residential and commercial market in 2012. Average residential system prices dropped nearly 20% between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, and industry experts expect this segment of the market to surge as third-party financing options spread throughout the country.”

US Southwest Is Hot

The leading states are largely in the Southwest, thanks in part to its tremendous solar energy potential, but there are some outliers.

“The top five states for solar electric capacity installed in 2012 were California (becoming the first state to install over 1,000 MW in a single year), Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina, while the leaders in cumulative solar capacity installed through 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.”

The 10 most attractive states for solar energy investment, according to EY, are now:

Best Solar States For Return On Investment (ROI)

Overall, I find the EY report very useful, as it includes fairly comprehensive policy and market analyses, and even does so for the top solar states.

However, as people who have read me for awhile know, I’m a big fan of relative rankings… of which there are very few. Looking at absolute rankings such as total solar power capacity, you miss who is leading the way on a per capita or per GDP basis. And you miss which states offer the best return on investment for a single residential solar power system.

If you’re curious about the latter, you may have noticed that we’ve already shared a great ranking on that, which changed the above order a bit to come up with this top 10 ranking:

  1. Hawaii — 24% IRR
  2. DC (if you want to include it) — 20% IRR
  3. New York — 17% IRR
  4. Connecticut — 16% IRR
  5. Colorado — 15% IRR
  6. Massachusetts — 15% IRR
  7. New Mexico — 13% IRR
  8. California — 12% IRR
  9. South Carolina – 12% IRR
  10. Delaware – 12% IRR
Best Solar States Per Capita

At the end of 2012, the top solar states for installed solar power per capita ranking shuffles the top solar states around yet again:

top-solar-states-per-capita-total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

top-solar-power-states-per-capita-total-solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

Best Solar States… Depends On Your Aims

In the end, I think all of this data is quite interesting. And it offers useful lessons of different types. The EY ranking is certainly useful to investors and major companies who want to figure out the policies and market of one or more states in order to invest in solar projects for the best return on investment (ROI). It also helps show how large states and even countries can better promote solar power.

The solar ROI study briefly mentioned after that is actually useful for the same thing (through slightly different data and research). But it’s also useful for individual homeowners or small businesses who are considering the switch to solar.

And the per capita rankings show us who the true state leaders are, showing us which states’ solar or electricity policies would be most worth emulating.

But, really, for our main audience (the common Joe), there’s simply one thing to do: find out how much solar power could save you, get connected to the best installer for your money in your region, and go solar so that you can start savings tens of thousands of dollars off your electricity bills.

The longer you wait to make the switch, the more money you are throwing away on dirty power from a monopolistic utility company. And the fact is, you can get an estimate of how much you’d save in less time than it takes to watch another cat video or Gangnam Style.

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This article, Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Experience Grid Freedom

by Zachary Shahan

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

Do you ever feel like you’re an indentured servant at the mercy of your monopolistic utility company? Do you ever wish you could free yourself from this unbalanced relationship? Have you ever dreamt about the grid freedom that would come with becoming your own power producer?

Dream no more! Go out and claim your freedom, your grid freedom! Become a profiting contributor to the electricity grid rather than only a slaving consumer.

Think this is all just an unrealistic dream? Well, aside from an attitude adjustment, you probably just need to see a few eye-opening stats to realize that this is not simply a possibility, but also a really good freakin’ option for millions or hundreds of millions of people, and one of those people could be you!

The 1st set of stats you should see are ones I can’t provide for you in this article. The 1st set of stats you should see is the set of stats tailored to your own home and situation — to be specific, how much electricity a solar power system on your roof could generate and how much money you could save/make from that. To get those stats, simply go through the short solar quote service on our homepage.

On to the more general stats, here are some big ones that I think will help to show you how attractive going solar is today:

Don’t delay any further! Join the solar party! Claim your grid freedom! Help the world by saving/making mucho money!

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This article, Experience Grid Freedom, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Making Solar Affordable To Those Who Cant Afford

By Katie Valentine – Special to JBS News

Originally published on Climate Progress.

Rick Lopez said he felt like he’d won the lottery.

Lopez, a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran and Denver, CO resident, had a 3-kilowatt solar system installed on his house by a group of volunteers on Wednesday, completely free of charge. The project was initiated by GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization whose story was highlighted in the Denver Post this week. Lopez’s new system should provide power for 60 to 100 percent of his home’s electricity, and will save him hundreds of dollars in electricity costs each year.

“We would never have been able to do this on our own,” Rick’s wife Roberta Lopez told the Denver Business Journal. “We take it as a blessing.”

California-based GRID Alternatives installs solar systems on low-income households in California, Colorado and soon, in New York and New Jersey. The organization has installed 3,500 solar systems in California so far, projects that according to the organization have saved the homeowners $80 million in energy costs and will result in the reduction of 250,000 tons of greenhouse gasses over their lifetimes.

Once the solar system is installed, the homeowner pays GRID two cents for every kilowatt-hour that the solar panels produce, which typically results in energy bill savings of 80 percent. If the system produces all the household’s energy, a homeowner in Colorado would pay just $13 per month to GRID, compared to the state’s average $75.67 electricity bill.

“It’s really just a huge relief for those families,” Julian Foley, GRID Alternative’s communication manager told Denver Westword. “They can spend money on other things they need… That’s spending money that goes back to the community.”

And the free installation is key — though the price of installing solar in the U.S. has fallen to record lows, it’s still out of reach for many Americans. The solar systems GRID installs can cost up to $17,000, but grants bring the cost down to about $5,000.

GRID depends on volunteers to complete the installations, a setup which, along with donated equipment and corporate backing, helps make the organization’s work possible. But job trainees also work on installations — the organization partners with local community colleges and organizations like Veterans Green Jobs to provide job training for the clean energy sector. Through these partnerships, the organization also finds people who are eligible to receive free solar systems — those at an income level of 80 percent or below their area’s median level.

In California, the work GRID does also gets state funding through the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH). The program provides up-front rebates for low-income families who want to install solar systems, and GRID is the program manager for SASH’s $108 million in funds. The program will run until December 2015 or until the funding runs out — and as the demand for SASH and its counterpart, the Multi-family Affordable Solar Homes Program, which provides rebates for affordable housing projects, grows, the second scenario is looking more realistic. A bill has been taken up in the California Assembly to extend funding of the program to 2021.

Though it might be one of the most extensive, GRID isn’t the only group that aims to bring clean energy and energy efficiency to low-income Americans. Washington, D.C. provides a low-income option for its renewable energy incentive program, and in New York City, Enterprise Community Partners is building super-efficient affordable housing buildings — a new 197-unit development New York City is LEED and Energy Star certified and has 214-kilowatt solar system on its roof. A New York state program provides free insulation, draft reduction, high efficiency lighting and appliance upgrades to low-income residents, and Vermont has a similar program.

This article, Making Solar Affordable To Those Who Can’t Afford, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.