According to the Solar Industry Energy Association, the solar industry employed roughly 174,000 people in 2014. Together, these employees installed the energy equivalent of 1.25 Million homes with an average of 164 homes/MW of energy.
In 2015, more American homes than ever before started getting solar panels. It seems people are starting to wake up and take matters into their own hands. After setting an all time record in the first quarter of 2015, the second quarter pushed it even further also indicating a shift in the industry towards home owners and consumers.
It used to be that the market for photovoltaic panels in the U.S. where mainly solar farms in remote areas. These farms would create electricity and sell it to utilities companies, which would distribute it through a centralized power grid. To give you a sense of size, 1,000 MW is about the equivalent of a large coal or natural gas plant. In the second quarter of 2015, there were 729 MW worth of solar panels installed in solar farms and 473 MW installed on home roofs. The amount of home photovoltaic roofs has been growing by 70 percent on a yearly basis. Only in the past two years, between 2013 and 2015, the number of states with vibrant residential solar markets has more than doubled.
The consumer market for solar panels is likely to benefit a lot in the next period. Renewable farms may access an Investment and Tax Credit for business of 30 percent. This has also contributed to the growth of the utility segment and is rumored to be lowered to 10 percent by the end of 2016. In addition, according to the Information Handling Services (IHS), there are more than 32,000 MW of solar farms planned for the U.S. by the end of 2016. This could lead to a boom and bust cycle of the market which could drive the prices down, which could mean an over-inflated market in the short term followed by an under inflated market.
The solar panel market is on a rise and we’ll continue to see innovation and economies of scale bringing the prices down and increasing efficiency. Using current technology, a solar panel may offer about 200W of energy on average. This is not nearly enough for the energy needs of the average household, but it’s a start and there’s plenty of room for improvement. At the moment, the solar panels operating in the U.S. generate more than 20,000 MW of energy, powering almost 5 million U.S. homes.
Unfortunately most of that energy is delivered through the national grid. Since generating the energy is virtually free apart from the initial cost of the solar panel it’s a very nice deal for the fat cats at the top. Corporate taxation is reduced if they build solar farms and then deliver the virtually free energy through the national grid to tax payers. You’re paying the same money for energy that cost a lot less to produce and deliver. It’s a good sign that more people are installing solar panels and going off grid, but there’s still a long way ahead of us.
Did you install a solar panel on your home? When did you go off grid? Did you build or buy your solar panel? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.