2012 was a very productive year for solar and 2013 is looking just as promising. Between a wide variety of financing options and falling costs, solar is becoming even more readily available to anyone who wants it.
An increase in third party solar leasing programs gives potential solar customers more options to go solar, especially if they’re not in the financial position to go with a purchase. Solar leasing allows customers to–at zero or low upfront cost–have solar installed on their homes. The monthly lease payment and utility bill with solar are less expensive than your utility bill without solar. Since utility rates are only projected to go up, this means substantial savings over time.
Customers also have the choice of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in which case the customer pays for their energy at a set rate (per kilowatt hour). In either case, with third party financing, the risk for the customer decreases as they don’t have to shoulder the responsibilities that come with ownership (maintenance, monitoring, insurance, and production guarantees).
These financial innovations are part of the reason why total installed solar capacity reached 1,992 MW in 2012 with 684 MW occurring in the third quarter alone–118 MW of which being residential installations.
The growth of the solar industry can also be attributed to costs dropping almost 40% in the past two years. Though this has been beneficial to consumers, the price drop comes in part from an increase in global oversupply which has created problems for the US solar manufacturers who’ve had trouble competing with unfairly low prices.
But despite quarrels over the oversupply, solar in the US is still growing and responsible for adding 13,872 jobs in 2012 according to the National Solar Jobs Census report. Currently, there are more than 119,000 workers employed in the solar industry, a 13.2% increase since 2011.
Between financial innovations and falling costs, solar is becoming even more accessible to families, businesses, and a wide range of other applications including utility scale projects and military installations.