Millie HennickSeptember 6, 20181410
Recent developments in solar technologies make it hard to keep track of the latest solar innovations. Many want to know if now is the best time to install solar. They want to know if the "latest technology" is significant enough to wait to install their own solar power system. The solar industry is always dynamic, and keeping track of the latest developments around the globe can be difficult. Although this year got off to a rough start with the federal government’s decision in January to impose a 30% tariff on foreign-manufactured solar components, there has since been many state-level policy developments that paint a more vibrant picture for the industry.
Actions by California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are especially noteworthy. The striking decision by California—the world’s fifth largest economy—to make utility incentives provides a model for how utilities can benefit from solar growth. Additionally, New Jersey’s new solar and clean energy mandates, if signed by Governor Murphy, make it one of the Top three most ambitious clean energy targets.solar standard for new homes will help standardize solar technologies and massively expand the solar marketplace. Hawaii’s implementation of
There are always a few who refuse to comply
Not all of the state-level actions have been supportive of solar, however. Specifically, rollbacks of net metering may discourage the solar markets in Michigan and, if approved, Connecticut. Despite these setbacks, overall these changes make it clear that many states recognize the value of solar and other renewable energy sources and are ready to take action to make our planet a safer and cleaner place to live
By far the biggest state policy legislation, in terms of impacts for the solar industry, comes out of California. On May 9, the California Energy Commission mandated that almost all new homes have rooftop solar starting in 2020. The changes are part of the state’s newly approved 2019 Building Energy Code. There has been some resistance, but California continues to shine as an example of what the world needs to do to curb carbon emissions. Nobody said it would be easy. It took many years to get in this terrible position and it will take years to make substantive changes that get real results. The decision will significantly improve demand for solar energy; a conservative estimate by GTM research predicted a 14% increase in total U.S. solar sales over the next four years as a direct result. It also represents an important transition in making solar energy a new normal for consumers. Resulting industry and technological changes may also contribute to falling costs for California solar installations.
Colorado became one of the first states to designate energy storage as a consumer right when Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed SB 18-009 into law in late March. The law shows that residents should be able to install, use and interconnect energy storage systems without burdensome restrictions or discriminatory rates. It calls upon the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to establish rules governing customer-sited energy storage.
In an important development for the Florida solar market, the Public Service Commission issued a statement in late April declaring that residential solar leases are now allowed in the state. Previously, solar leases were deemed “third-party electricity sales,” which are prohibited in Florida. Florida solar customers now have a new financing option to choose from and solar companies in the state can offer a new product.
Experts suggest that new solar technologies are not a good reason to put off the installation of a new solar energy system today. Stated another way, some are concerned about installing solar and then discovering that a new technology makes their system obsolete. That's not likely to be the case. For more on solar, see our blog
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