• 1 hour Alibaba-Backed Tesla Competitor Set To IPO In The U.S.
  • 3 hours Emerging Economies Could Get Left Behind In Race For COVID Vaccine
  • 19 hours Dead Malls Could Be Amazon’s Next Target
  • 23 hours Unpacking Biden's Energy Plan
  • 1 day Russia Aims To Become World's Top Gold Producer
  • 2 days Global Tech Stocks On Edge Over Trump TikTok Ban
  • 2 days Cobalt Squeeze Threatens The Electric Vehicle Boom
  • 3 days COVID Has Sparked A Surge In Cybercrime
  • 3 days Precious Metals Bulls Still Have Plenty Of Room To Run
  • 4 days The U.S. Has The Tech To Go Green, But Will It Use It?
  • 4 days Massive Losses Force Russian Commodities Giant To Slash Dividends
  • 5 days Markets Up On Stimulus Hope
  • 5 days UK To Invest In Europe's First Geothermal Lithium Recovery Plant
  • 6 days TikTok Takes Center Stage In US-China Tech War
  • 6 days Are Semiconductor Stocks Overvalued?
  • 7 days Jobs Report Doesn’t Say Much Amid COVID Uncertainty
  • 7 days Crypto FOMO Heats Up As Bitcoin Climbs Above $11,000
  • 8 days Aluminum Is Bouncing Back In China
  • 8 days The Deep-Sea Mining Debate
  • 9 days Markets Trending Down Despite Tech Blow-Out
How Hydrogen Could Become The Fuel Of The Future

How Hydrogen Could Become The Fuel Of The Future

Hydrogen has long been touted…

Britain Crosses Key Energy Landmark

Britain Crosses Key Energy Landmark

Britain is about to pass…

Oilprice.com

Oilprice.com

Writer, OilPrice.com

Information/Articles and Prices on a wide range of commodities: We have assembled a team of experienced writers to provide you with information on Crude Oil,…

Contact Author

  1. Home
  2. Commodities
  3. Energy

New Regulations Could Boost Lagging Solar Growth

Solar

Solar makes sense. It’s cost efficient, it’s eco-friendly and has no carbon footprint, electricity is generated in the same grid where it is consumed, and the price of installing panels on residential rooftops is a fraction of what it cost just ten years ago, even after Donald Trump’s prohibitive tariffs slapped on imported solar panels earlier this year. So why hasn’t it taken off?

According to opinion polls the majority of homeowners in the United States like the idea of rooftop solar and love the idea of seeing their electricity bills drop. And indeed, in 2017 overall rooftop solar gigawatts of capacity were almost ten times higher in 2017 than they were in 2010, with more than 2 million US homes now sporting solar panels. However, despite these considerable gains, residential rooftop solar panels still account for less than 1 percent of the United States’ total electricity, and growth has slowed considerably in recent years, with volumes actually dropping by 15 percent in 2017.

While volatility is nothing new for the solar industry, the peaks and valleys of recent years are particularly marked thanks for unpredictable regulation and the inconsistent if not erratic business models of solar energy firms. In some cases regulation has been extremely friendly to solar. Just this month the California Building Standards Commission gave final approval to a mandate requiring new homes to include rooftop solar panels starting in 2020, which will provide a big uptick in demand. This is on top of sizable subsidies, just one of which is a 30 percent federal tax credit.

These generous subsidies, however, are a big part of what makes demand for solar panels so variable. This year the solar industry was confronted with the unpredictable specter of tax reform and considerable uncertainty of how it would impact the solar sector on the whole. This is compounded by the fact that solar regulations vary greatly state by state, not to mention that the fact that sunlight itself is not a constant.

Solar panels may be cleaner, greener, and cheaper than almost all of the alternatives, but not everyone is happy with that. As homeowners are able to create their own energy and even their excess, the very same diminishing electricity bills they are celebrating are being lamented by the power companies that used to provide that energy for them.

Big power companies are losing out on profits thanks to rooftop solar panels, but still bearing the costly burden of maintaining the power grids. However, if these power companies then raise their rates in an effort to make up for the money lost to solar, they will be punishing those without solar panels, therefore pushing more of their customer base away from traditional power and toward installing solar panels themselves, a classic catch-22. Related: North America’s Largest Diamond Ever Discovered In Canada

In addition to rankling traditional power companies, rooftop solar incentives and mandates like California’s are not universally popular among energy economists either. To be clear, everyone is in agreement that this will help California make good on its extremely lofty goal of dropping their carbon footprint for energy usage to zero by 2045. Homes built under the new mandate will use approximately 53 percent less energy than homes built under the 2016 standard and could cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 700,000 metric tons over the next three years, according to projections made by the CEC.

This is all good news, but it will not be cheap, and it’s still not enough. 700,000 metric tons is less than 1 percent of the Golden State’s annual emissions. Furthermore, other green ventures like building more solar and wind farms would be more cost efficient--up to three times cheaper if done correctly and developed in ideal locations--and just as effective.

By Haley Zaremba for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Safehaven.com

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment