Milestones for residential solar power in 2013



According to a recently released report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, the third quarter of 2013 was the second largest on record for the U.S. solar industry, and new solar electric capacity added this year will generate enough clean energy to power more than 850,000 average American homes.

Here are a few additional highlights:
Cracking the code for residential solar power – In September the non-profit SmartPower and Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) released a report that revealed a proven model for dramatically reducing the cost barrier that has stood in the way of wide-scale adoption of residential solar power in the United States. In each of four towns – after just 20 weeks – the rate of adoption for residential solar installations was between 24 and 64 times greater than the previous seven years. The average customer saved about $7500 on their system, compared to current market averages. Most significantly, about 20% of those choosing solar under this model had never previously thought about acquiring solar power.

Solar panels installed at The White House – The Obama Administration announced that solar panels were being installed on the roof of The White House. The installation is an important symbolic statement in connection with President Obama’s commitment to have 20 percent of the federal government’s energy usage come from renewable power by 2020.

Unanimous agreement on community solar in the nation’s capital – The expansion of community solar power in America took a symbolic leap forward in October when the City Council of the nation’s capital voted unanimously to bring “virtual net-metering” to residents of Washington, DC. This approach is a crucial component of community solar, by which entire communities – not just individuals – build and benefit from solar power. It enables those who don’t live in houses suitable for solar panels to benefit from solar energy adoption.

Dropping solar prices for third year in a row – The installed price of solar photovoltaic power systems in the U.S. fell substantially in 2012 and the first half of 2013, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Installed prices for PV systems in 2013 fell by 16 percent over the past year to $3.00/W – marking the third year in a row of significant price reductions for PV systems in the U.S.

Solar growth driven by middle-class homeowners – The Center for American Progress analyzed the three states with the most residential solar systems – Arizona, California, and New Jersey – and found that installations are overwhelmingly occurring in middle-class neighborhoods that have median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. According to the report, “the areas that experienced the most growth from 2011 to 2012 had median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 in both Arizona and California and $30,000 to $40,000 in New Jersey.”