Originally published on Cost of Solar.
Danny Kennedy, founder and president of Sungevity, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg TV. Most of the questions were about residential solar energy in the US in general. Danny knocked the ball out of the park so many times that I think someone should check to see if he’s on steroids. He was tremendous.
Here’s the video (hat tip to NewEnergyNews), followed by some of the highlights in text as well as additional commentary:
The main interviewer started off by asking Kennedy a rather mainstream, uninformed question about residential solar systems and the solar industry: “When do we get from the ‘gee wiz’ to an actually mature, real, profit-making business?”
For anyone who knows what’s going on in solar, the question is — quite frankly — dumb. Numerous solar businesses are making huge profits already. Globally, millions of people have gone solar, and that number is growing fast. But rather than steal his glory, here’s Danny’s tremendous answer:
“We’re there now. We’re in the future already. This country has hundreds of thousands of citizens that are living solar-powered lives.”
He also notes that the solar leasing industry has grown from a billion-dollar business in the US last year to a couple of billion dollars in 2013 and probably a 5-billion-dollar business within a couple of years.
Some other top quotes:
“We are actually being transformed before we really realize it.”
“As you know, exponential curves grow really fast. You know, it’s like cell phone use 10, 15 years ago.”
“If you look at more mature markets like Germany or Australia, Germany has 30 gigawatts of solar power on the rooftops there. That’s 30 big power stations equivalent, or just under half of their power capacity. Australia has 10% of homes now with solar.”
“We’re still at about 1% [in the US], which is good news for the business because we’re growing gangbusters, and the only way is up. Last year it was 60%, this year we’re looking at a 50% per annum growth. You know, name another industry in the States that’s growing on those sorts of CAGRs.”
One of the interviewers asked, “Well, when it comes to the US and this industry, how dependent is it on the government crutch?”
“Like all energy, we’ve got a tax credit. You know, the oil & gas guys have had theirs since 1913, so that’s a hundred years…. If there were no tax credits to any energy industry, we’d beat them hands down because we have no fuel input, no fuel costs, and also there’s no pollution, so there’s none of those byproducts and those social costs. But the fact of the matter is, we’re up against 800-pound gorillas that have been heavily subsidized for 100 years, and so, we need some help right now. But also, most of the rebates are going away. California had an extensive rebate program which is gone now…. And we’ll be competitive head-to-head with pretty much any energy supply you can name.”
Great stuff. Excellent answers. It’s one thing to know all these things, but it’s another to be able to provide such excellent answers on the fly, including the wonderful statistics and dates Danny didn’t even have to search for. I keep wanting to write something else about it all, but then realize that Danny nailed almost everything in a perfect way.
Aside from the above, he also nailed one of our big points of emphasis, that solar panel costs have come down from about $4/watt five years ago to about 75¢/watt today, a tremendous cost drop. Every doubling of volume has resulted in a 20% reduction in price. And the cost of residential solar systems has thus come down to a large degree as well.
To summarize in very succinct bullet points, here’s the story:
- Solar power costs have dropped tremendously in the past several years.
- Solar power is already a big, multi-billion-dollar business in the US. (And several other countries are far ahead of us.)
- Nonetheless, we’re at the beginning of a tremendous exponential growth curve that is going to see the solar power market blow up — we’re going to see a transition to solar similar to the transition we saw to cell phones, or to smartphones.
- The solar revolution is here!!
For more in-depth stories along these lines, check out the following stories:
Solar Power’s Tremendous Growth
- Middle-Class Americans Driving US Solar Growth
- Solar Power For Homes = The Automobile Of The 21st Century
- Solar Panels For Home Are Now Like Granite Countertops
- ⅔ Of Solar PV Shipped Within Last 2.5 Years
- Record Number Of Solar Panels Shipped In Q2 2013
Solar Cost Drops
- Solar Panel Costs Drop 60% In US Since Early 2011, Can Now Power 1.5 Million US Homes
- Solar Power Costs Drop 50% Since 2008, Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels
- Solar Panel Installers Installed Solar For Much Less in 2012 & 1st Half of 2013
- Cost of Solar Is 2–100 Times Cheaper Than You Think
Solar’s Big Financial Benefit
- Is Solar Power Worth It?
- Solar Leasing = $600 Annual Savings For Middle-Class Families
- ‘How Much Are Solar Panels?’ Is Wrong Question — ‘How Much Are Solar Panels Gonna Save Me?’ Is Better
- Solar Return On Investment (ROI)
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