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Published on December 27th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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PVSolar Report: Top 10 Solar Stories For 2013



Originally published by the PVSolarReport
by Rosana Francescato

At PV Solar Report, we’re thankful every day for the sun’s energy and for being part of the solar industry. For Thanksgiving, we stop for a moment to list just a few of the many great solar stories of 2013 we’re thankful for. 

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At PV Solar Report, we’re thankful every day for the free energy that falls on us from the sky. For Thanksgiving, we thought we’d take a moment to call out just a few of the many great solar stories of 2013 we’re thankful for — and the year’s not over yet.

Solar industry advances

Solar is getting to be the fastest-growing industry in the US. When the military is getting in on the action, you know something’s going on.

1. Falling costs: The big news in the solar industry continues to be plummeting costs. While conventional power prices keep going up, solar is 99% cheaper than it was in 1977. And 30% of that drop has happened in just the past two years.

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2. More businesses going solar: We don’t have enough space to list all the businesses going solar. Ikea has been adding more, while Google, Apple, Costco, Walmart, and many others keep the bar high. Yes, all this activity is related to #1, as illustrated by a California factory that’s reducing its electricity costs by 75% by going solar.

3. New financing sources: In big news for solar, SolarCity recently announced the first securitization of distributed solar assets. This will result in billions of dollars of new potential financing for the industry. SolarCity’s move paves the way for other solar companies and should allow for further industry growth.

4. Positive reviews from customers: Solar continues to enjoy widespread popularity, also important for the industry’s growth. A recent poll found that 91% of residential solar customers are very happy with their experience and would recommend it to their friends. Given the importance of social proof in selling solar, this is a key finding.

Policy victories

Although we’re not where we should be, 2013 has been a good year for solar policy and regulations.

5. Net metering wins: While there’s some question about who’s winning the net metering debate, there’s cause for celebration. in California this summer, new legislation strengthened net metering. Solar policy in Georgia and Arizona benefited from strong bipartisan support. The Arizona Corporate Commission imposed only a small fee on solar customers, far less than the $50-$100 per month lobbied for by the utility. And Georgia experienced a similar victory, with the state’s largest utility dropping a proposed solar customer charge.

6. Interconnection advances: Just as important to solar as net metering is supportive interconnection policy. The whole country just had some good news on this front, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a new rule that will spur further solar deployment nationwide.

7. Community and shared solar gains: This year, the California legislature passed a law that lets utility customers sign up for an offsite clean power project, through their utility. And Minnesota’s state legislature passed comprehensive clean energy legislation that includes a community solar program — making the state one of the unexpected emerging solar markets to watch.

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Solar growth

Despite all naysaying, solar continues to grow by leaps and bounds. 2013 is shaping up to be a strong year for solar — from individual states to the whole US. In the first nine months of the year, solar beat coal in new electricity generation capacity. And in October, solar accounted for over 72% of all new electricity generating capacity. A few more stories of solar growth in the news this year:

8. State solar successes: How to make treasure out of trash? In New York, the answer was putting solar on what was the world’s largest landfill. In Nevada, solar is a gold mine — or at least, it’s on a gold mine, where it’s lowering operating expenses. And early this year, California passed the milestone of powering 150,000 homes with rooftop solar.

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9. Solar for the middle-class: And where was most of that growth? In middle-class neighborhoods. This important finding goes a long way to dispelling the myth that solar is just for the rich. That’s just no longer true as costs go down and new financing options become available.

10. A growing solar pipeline: What does the future hold? A lot of solar. In the US, the pipeline has grown to 43GW — equivalent to over 40 nuclear power plants, and enough to power more than 6 million homes. If you think that sounds like a lot of solar, just wait till 2020 — which isn’t that far away. Annual worldwide solar PV capacity is expected to double by then. Given the many clean energy goals set for 2020, we think it will be an amazing year. In the meantime, we’re glad to have so much to be thankful for in 2013.

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  • Matt

    US passed 10GW of cumulative solar electric capacity at about end of July 2013. So based on your 43GW pipeline or estimates on net for next two years. Expect expect 3-5 time what has been install from 1970-2013 to be installed in next two years. To paraphrase an old movie, “Let go coal its going to be a bumpy ride”. Exponential grown is so hard to wrap your head around and see where it is going. You get setting your sight to low.

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