Solar Energ - California

What’s more, this news comes on the backdrop of a record 33 percent increase of solar power installation across the country.

Numbers show a total of 71.3 megawatts of solar power installed in the residential sector in California.

California is obviously the best in the solar energy business, thanks to its location and long sunshine periods and vast desert. On the other hand, other areas such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico, which have similar sunny conditions, have only come in second and third places. California boasts a total of 408 solar energy installations, most of them being built in the utility market sector. Also, there is a good increase in household installation as well.

However, these optimistic numbers come as quite a surprise when you consider that some installers have begun to forgo California’s solar initiative rebate. Apparently, this is because of the complex bureaucracy required to access the rebates, leaving some installers on the sides. It is estimated that approximately 13.2 megawatts of the total 71.3 megawatts were installed without the help of the rebate. This year alone, almost 3,000 homes were equipped with solar power installations without any state incentives or rebates used.

Still, California has one of the lowest solar power installation prices, hovering around $4 per watt for the residential sector. This is the lowest price ever, even for California, with prices reaching $6.95/W in Q1 of 2010. Obviously, this is also great news, but it gets even better, as home installation prices have fallen by 15 percent in the last year. According to SEIA and GTM researchers, 2013 will end with a total of 4,400 megawatts of installations in all market areas. This definitely puts California on the right green track.

Going back to the solar power’s history in California, we see a demand driven almost exclusively by state incentives. Many of these were offered as rebates and they drove the market for several years. But in recent years the rebate rates have dwindled and consumers have opted for other solutions. This is evident in the statistics, as we have previously pointed out.

However, some things are certain. The incentives will run out eventually and the market will need to reach maturity in order to adapt and survive. Basically, when put in perspective, the sky’s the limit. And it looks as if it’s getting sunnier than ever because the trend is expected to continue and rise, going up and up. Also, the prices are steadily going down, and there is a lot of room for even further improvement. Specialists expect that all the way to 2016 the prices will see a downward spiral and other connected costs will also go down. There is already a $0.50/W to be saved for acquisition costs in the residential market sector.

The final question that arises is “When will this solar power frenzy stop?” After all, who would want to give up this cheap and easy to use energy source? Well, the answer is net metering caps. These can go in place after 2017, massively slowing down investments. The financial estimates show that the solar energy investments require $54 billion in finance between 2013 and 2017, which is a huge sum, considering that the whole market was estimated at $7.3 billion in the previous year.

As for the final thoughts, the news brings two ideas to the table. First, there is a healthy outlook on the market evolution, which is obviously good. Secondly, the future doesn’t really show a sure path to follow. It could eventually go both ways if we are not careful.

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