These are some of the highlights of the year gone by and an outlook of things to come for 2011. The solar industry has waited to find out what would be the fate of the Treasury Grant program. If you haven’t tuned in for this debate, this development is very good news for the renewable energy industry. The solar industry had another stellar growth year. A recent report predicted that the industry will grow as much as 22% in 2010, when all of the numbers (modules) have been counted. The one gnawing issue is that the solar industry is quickly becoming a Chinese industry, as even today the Chinese own 66% of world production. It was a better year to put home solar panels on your roof than investing in solar stocks. Morningstar says that solar investors “could be in for a rude awakening come 2011.” The biggest change in the industry came with the micro-inverter. Sure, solar panel efficiencies improved, which means more output for the buck, and the price of PV came down, but the biggest change in the industry came with the industry acceptance for residential PV installation of the micro-inverter. Enphase is no doubt the market leader, but there are many, many wanabees and the competition for micro-inverters will heat up in 2011. The other major shift we saw in the industry is that regardless of whether the homeowner gets a micro-inverter, the homeowner almost invariably wants to get monitoring of the solar energy system.
Posts Tagged ‘Treasury Grant Program’
The sea change that occurred yesterday in the elections has the solar industry abuzz in speculation and trepidation. There is much analysis and a lot more guess work at play, but the political developments should focus the mind on what can be done. The first clue is what the lame duck Congress will try to do. We already know that cap and trade is a nonstarter, but some remnants of an energy bill may be pushed forward before the new Congress convenes in January. Many solar industry analysts are watching for a particular piece of legislation known as the Treasury Grant program.
We went to a reception by the Clean Economy Network last night—we had a chance to meet with lawyers and lobbyists, financial analysts, and even a few solar energy installers. We got a good review of industry trends and some of the upcoming challenges from Reed Hundt, CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital and Ethan Zindler, Head of Research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. There is obviously keen interest in renewable energy these days. Take a look at the news article we posted today on some of the latest optimistic trends in the solar industry. Support for solar energy is up—right across the board, regardless of party affiliation or geography. Some want to reduce the threat of global warming, and some want to create jobs, and still others simply want to do their part to save energy. The solar energy industry is optimistic that the residential PV market will continue to expand. At the reception, despite some of the hopeful signs, there were some long faces in the room.
The solar industry applauded when the 30% federal tax credit was extended to 2016 and the legislation lifted the cap. The reason of course is that for all intents and purposes, the solar industry is just emerging and needs substantial support, and the stability in the incentives provides this support. But now one important part of this program, known as the treasury grant program, has been placed in jeopardy. Four senators released a letter in which they urged the Obama Administration to suspend this program until the legislation could be amended to allow only for clean energy projects “that preserve and create jobs in the United States.” You can read the full text of the letter here. The abrupt fits and starts of incentive programs, and not just this federal program, only serve to stall the march to solar.