Like all trade shows, Solar Power International (SPI) 2015 had a full range of company types: larger businesses with soundproof conference areas; eager startups looking to make their mark on this rapidly expanding industry; and everything in between. Though the shadow of the looming reduction of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) next year was certainly on people’s minds, there was a palpable energy and enthusiasm about the strength of the industry throughout the exhibit and conference halls. It finally appears that solar energy has reached the mainstream audience’s attention and support.
Consider a few statistics:
- Throughout the first half of 2015, 40% of all new electric generating capacity brought online in the U.S. came from solar.
- We expect another record year for the U.S. PV market in 2015, with installations reaching 7.7 GWdc, a 24% increase over 2014.
- Since November 2013, one out of every 78 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry.
- The Solar Foundation estimates that the U.S. solar industry employed 93,502 workers as of November 2010. In 2014 it rose to 173,807—an 85% increase in just four years! For 2015 it is expected to reach 210,060.
We discussed key industry developments as we spoke to industry veterans and newbies alike. Our take included the following observations:
- The obvious 800-pound gorilla is the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) dropping from 30% to 10% for commercial projects and being abolished altogether for residential projects at the end of 2016.
- As a result of the rush to get projects completed ahead of the ITC’s expected reduction, module prices will increase, and availability could be scarce in 2016. While it will be a very busy year for installers, module manufacturers are not going to gear up production significantly for just one huge year. As a result, there is a real risk of shortages. If you’re going to do a project, get your contract signed before you have to deal with these unavoidable industry realities.
- The industry is still evolving, so companies have to adjust to shifting market conditions, practices/standards, and even regulations. This suggests that when you want to go solar you should work with a thought leader or experienced player who is tracking changes in the industry and can bring you the most up-to-date, creative solutions and ideas.
- There were a lot of discussions around financing challenges. Many developers of small and medium-sized projects were at our sister company’s booth, Sunvestment Energy Group, which is addressing the underserved mid-market space. If you would like to learn more, visit www.sunvestmentgroup.com.
The solar industry is all about energy—the energy we produce and the energy we bring to deliver great solutions for our clients. We’ve achieved unprecedented growth and success in the last few years, and the future is still bright. Despite the changes in the incentives that are coming, there is great momentum today and increased understanding of the value that solar provides. Being part of a growing industry that is really making a difference gives RER energy to keep pushing forward to find great solutions for our clients and partners.
Time is running out to benefit from the 30% Federal ITC. Projects must be installed by the end of 2016 in order to receive it. Let us know if we can evaluate your facility and bills to see how much you can benefit from the free fuel provided by the sun to significantly lower your energy costs. Feel free to call us to discuss your energy needs at 610-332-7232.