For the solar energy industry, the sun is shining brighter than ever this year.
Research analysts have many theories about the future of photovoltaic power in the United States, but one thing is clear — the outlook is bright indeed.
Solar experts have forecast three important trends for 2016.
Continued Growth in U.S. Solar Installations
Solar energy installations reached an all-time high in 2015, with 7.3 gigawatts in new residential and commercial deployments.
This brought the total capacity of the U.S. market up to 27 gigawatts. Photovoltaic power also accounted for more new electric generating capacity installed last year, beating the total of natural gas for the first time.
Industry analysts from Greentech Media, a clean energy research organization, expect that 2016 will be another banner year for solar power. Near the end of February, the country’s millionth photovoltaic installation came online, and experts predict that a record-breaking 16 gigawatts of PV power will be installed this year.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is optimistic that this growth will continue and anticipates that the country will reach 2 million installations within the next two years.
The Rise of Off-Grid Solar Energy Systems
Over the past few years, hardware costs for photovoltaic systems have dropped significantly. In fact, experts agree that, although equipment costs could fall further, the potential for lower costs in the future aren’t enough to offset the tax credit and incentives that are available today.
This favorable pricing structure, along with growing concern about the U.S. power grid and its failing infrastructure, has significantly increased the interest in stand-alone PV solar systems with backup batteries for power storage.
Photovoltaic industry experts believe that off-grid solar energy system installations will skyrocket this year, as customers race to take advantage of the federal tax credit and other local incentives and rebates.
As the interest in true energy independence continues to grow, the off-grid model of photovoltaic power will become even more popular in the coming years.
States and Utilities Will Explore New Solar Policies
The latest 50 States of Solar report issued by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center revealed that 42 states studied or made changes to their net metering policies in 2015. As the utility companies are forced to adjust to the continued sector growth, more policy changes are likely in 2016.
What kinds of changes are expected? Industry analysts believe we will see many types of rate design reform, including lower net metering rates, time-of-use schedules for solar customers, net metering aggregation and policies that address grandfathering existing customers.
These continuing developments point to the undeniable fact that now is the time to make your move to the energy independence and significant cost savings that solar energy provides.
Intermountain Wind & Solar is the leading photovoltaic sales, service and installation expert in the Intermountain West. Contact us today to learn more about how you can benefit from a grid-tied or off-grid solar energy system.