The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a report that included some exciting infographics demonstrating some important trends in residential solar:
- Installation costs are plummeting
- Residential solar is now cheaper than retail electricity in several states
- Households are adopting solar at accelerating rates!
The trend of decreasing costs for residential solar were driven by a large ramp up of solar panel production prior to 2008 that led to a significant growth in supply of inexpensive solar panels that resulted in a drop in pricing as companies shed their inventories to survive the economic downturn. Meanwhile, the resulting growth in the industry led to a focus on ways to lower soft costs such as permitting and interconnection, as well as drops in installation costs through continued technology and process improvements. As you can see from the first infographic, the decreasing cost trend started in 2008 has continued through to today.
It often surprises consumers in the Northeast that residential solar has been so popular in those states. Much of that can be attributed to early progressive policies in states like New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts, however, these states are particularly attractive for homeowners because retail electricity rates tend to be much higher than anywhere in the U.S. In this case, it is not the absolute cost of solar that matters, but the relative cost compared to other energy sources. For example, it may cost $0.12/kWh to go solar in Texas and $0.18/kWh to go solar in Maine, but if the retail electricity cost in Texas is only $0.10/kWh and $0.20/kWh in Maine, there’s a stronger economic case to go solar in Maine!
Finally, it’s exciting to see the growth in such a short period of time of rooftop solar homes. That said, the potential for where we may be in a few short years is something to really get excited about! As the infographic shows, we could see 10x growth in the next 7 years!