If you follow the solar energy industry as closely as we do at Crius Solar, you may have noticed an interesting contradiction recently: the solar industry is booming, yet many once solid solar companies are struggling – some have even declared bankruptcy. So what does this mean for homeowners who are considering (or have already gone) solar or the 208,000+ Americans who now work in the solar industry? Despite some solar industry growing pains, I can say with complete confidence that the future looks unbelievably bright for solar energy. Here’s why:
For the first time in the U.S., more solar systems came online in 2015 than natural gas power plants – the current top source of electricity nationwide, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Meanwhile, solar prices have fallen so dramatically (down 63% from 5 years ago and down 18% from 2015!) that solar is now cost-competitive with natural gas or coal in some parts of the country. And there’s no sign of solar slowing down anytime soon.
ITC Extension Creates A Sunny Path
At the same time, the solar industry was given a big present at the end of 2015 when Congress extended the solar tax credit, making solar more affordable for all Americans and effectively leveling the playing field for renewable energy. The federal solar tax credit, also known as the investment tax credit (ITC), allows both homeowners and business owners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from federal taxes through 2019 (deduction % stepped down thereafter). According to EnergySage, this translates to a $9,000 savings on the cost of going solar today.
Meanwhile in Paris, nearly 200 nations came together in December to adopt the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The Paris Agreement set out a worldwide action plan to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. This proactive approach to achieving climate-neutrality before the end of the century supplements efforts already underway in the U.S. as part of the Clean Power Plan. Taken together, these standards and subsidies create a firm runway of reliable incentives that is poised to jettison the solar industry. This unprecedented stability is a boon to solar energy advocates and consumers as it’s expected to further bolster solar adoption long-term.
The Evolution of Solar
Still, just because more countries are warming up to solar doesn’t mean that every company in the industry has been able to manage solar’s explosive growth. Delayed installations and a less than exceptional customer experience are common complaints here in the U.S. The good news is that these bumps in the solar road actually create new opportunities. For example, when Crius Energy experienced high customer cancellation rates first-hand with its solar partners – it set out to improve the efficiency of installations in order to bring cancellation rates down. Crius Energy’s acquisitions of both residential installation know-how and a best-in-class platform from SunEdison and Verengo mean that Crius Solar will have complete control over the solar customer experience from lead to installation to maintenance and monitoring. And that’s great news for current and future solar customers.
Similarly, when we saw the impact limited financing options can have on solar adoption, Crius took decisive action to expand our solar energy business in order to offer customers a strong value proposition and a range of financing products. With access to energy usage data for over 1 million energy consumers, Crius Solar is in a unique position to take that value one step further. By mining this data, Crius Solar can offer customized offerings designed to maximize value and simplicity for those home- and business owners most likely to benefit from going solar. In this way, Crius Solar can help to raise the bar on customer experience and expectations for the energy industry as a whole.
In my view, the U.S. solar energy industry is now entering what may be its most prosperous decade ever, thanks to a new wave of policies, economics, and evolution in the industry. These are all key reasons why Crius Solar is “doubling down” on solar now and hedging our bets on the clean, reliable energy source with the potential to not only power 16.4 million homes but also improve our world.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more solar-specific thoughts with the millions of U.S. homeowners who are currently sitting on the sidelines when it comes to solar energy. Check back often to learn why solar was, is and will continue to be the right energy choice for decades to come.