In Spite of Continued Challenges, Commercial And Industrial Solar Development Still Going Strong in 2015
Some of the same issues that have dogged the development of solar power for years continue to follow it into 2015:
- The ability to store power when the sun is not shining has not yet become cost-effective and efficient.
- Materials to produce panels are more difficult to obtain and use in the manufacturing process.
- The efficiency of a solar panel is still fairly low, and higher efficiency panels researched in the lab have not yet made it into production.
- Sunlight is intermittent and unreliable.
- Solar power requires large amounts of space in order to provide an equal amount of electricity from more conventional sources of fuel.
Comprehensive energy policy has been a continued elusive goal for the United States.
In spite of continuing challenges in this industry, the development of the solar industry continues to move forward with high momentum, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors. Soltage CEO Jesse Grossman recently took a look at questions addressing the development of large scale solar in 2015 (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/these-five-questions-could-determine-utility-scale-ci-solar-growth-in-2015).
States leading the charge:
In spite of the federal government’s lackluster support of a federal renewable portfolio standard policy, over half of the states, including Washington, D.C. have established renewable energy standards. Several states have voluntary goals. Opportunities for development in individual markets will continue to expand in the next year.
Solar financing continues to grow:
Solar portfolios will continue to grow in 2015, including traditional domestic and international project finance banks, large corporate entities (including Wal-Mart and Ikea), and smaller and regional banks. Based on growth trends in 2014 (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/12/31/2015-solar-energy/) , investments aren’t going to slow down any time soon, and in fact could signal a banner year for solar development in the coming months.
Costs continue to drop:
The price of power from conventional sources, on average, continues to rise across the country, while the cost of capital and solar panel installations continues to drop. Grossman predicts a 10 percent decline in the average cost of solar installations and a 5 to 10 percent drop in the weighted average cost of capital applied to solar investments.
Energy policy reform and tax credits:
Many analysts speculate that the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) will continue, albeit not in its’ current form. They predict that the amount will be steadily decreased. Uncertainty in energy tax policies has typically led to an influx of developers racing to ensure that their projects will qualify, and it is likely that 2015 will be no different.
Renewable energy development of any sort continues to face a variety of challenges, but has seen tremendous growth and new opportunities in the past several years, and 2015 looks to be no different.
New to the solar industry and looking to learn more? Join us at EUCI’s Solar Power Plant Design Fundamentals course March 30-31, 2015 in Scottsdale, AZ. More information at can be found here: http://www.euci.com/events/?ci=2557&t=O#20920v0Lx.