According to the Washington Post, the U.S. solar industry is expecting to shatter records for new solar power, with 4,143 megawatts of photo-voltaic solar capacity added in the third quarter alone.
The Solar Energy Industries Association and market analysis firm GTM Research, just published its “U.S. Solar Market Insight” report. The executive summary is available for free here.
The summary notes, “Between Q1 and Q3 2016, solar accounted for 39% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S, ranking second only to natural gas as the largest source of new capacity additions.”
Most of the growth, according to the report, is in utility scale projects rather than retail rooftop solar.
Clean Energy Advisors, or CEA, invests in small utility scale solar projects in North Carolina.
Despite the rosy report, people reasonably wonder about the prospect for renewable energy under President Elect Trump, who has appointed climate change skeptics to head both the EPA and the Department of Energy.
CEA CEO Chris Warren agrees. “The results of the U.S. Presidential election have undoubtedly raised some questions around the future of the renewable energy industry in America. Given President-elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric around support for coal, fracking, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and his apparent belief that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, one might assume that the solar industry is in for a rough ride. If this was 2008 I would tend to agree with that assumption.”
He points out that the growth of the industry has been exponential over the past ten years and that portends continued growth.
He says, “This growth which was driven by institutional investor interest in both the stable cash flows and tax attributes available to real assets in the space has changed the landscape in which we operate. In 2008, the price per watt for a solar panel was around $4, today that number is around sixty cents. All of the other major costs associated with solar projects have experienced similar contraction. The net result is an industry that can support itself based on underlying financial returns and not government intervention or incentives.”
“Solar is now at grid parity with fossil fuels in many states across the country and the list continues to grow. While legislative changes at the Federal, state, and local level have in the past created challenges for renewable energy (and in some instances opportunities) the financial returns are driving growth today,” he continued.
Ultimately, Chris has faith that President Trump will make decisions based on facts, not fiction.
“Nobody can accurately predict how a Donald Trump Administration will initially approach alternative energy. What we do know is that once he looks under the hood he will find substance that he probably has no idea exists,” Chris says. “He will find an economic engine that is driving job creation and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to local economies. He will find an asset class that is widely accepted by the largest financial institutions providing above market rates of return. He will find public support among 90 percent of the American population for advancement in the amount of power we produce from renewable energy.”
“I believe that President Trump will appreciate the reality that renewable energy is here to stay and is indeed the future,” he concluded.
The report predicts that 2016’s expected total increase in solar capacity of 14 gigawatts will grow in future years, topping 20 gigawatts per year by 2020.
Watch the full interview with @devindthorpe here:
Clean Energy Advisors sponsors the work of The Your Mark On The World Center including this publication.
Devin Thorpe was a finance guy until he realized life wasn’t all about the money. As a new-media journalist and founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, Devin has established himself as a champion of social good. As a Forbes contributor, with 350 bylines and over one million unique visitors, he has become a recognized name in the social impact arena. His YouTube show, featuring over 600 celebrities, CEOs, billionaires, entrepreneurs and others who are out to change the world, has been viewed over 200,000 times.