Rooftop solar installations grew by leaps and bounds over the past decade as panel costs gradually fell and residential customers took advantage of incentives such as the Investment Tax Credit. As 2017 draws to a close, the solar industry is in transition. While projects are becoming nominally less expensive to finance and quicker to produce acceptable return on investment (ROI), there is also some potential regulatory and legal uncertainty on the horizon. Accordingly, late 2017 might be the best time ever to install rooftop solar.
Low prices and easier financing make rooftop solar more appealing than ever
The vast majority of U.S. rooftops (79 percent) are solar-viable, according to a Google Project Sunroof survey of 60 million U.S. buildings in all 50 states. Many of these structures now feature solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, thanks to the favorable economics of initially installing them as well as saving on electricity costs in the long run.
For example, the Solar Energy Industries Associations have estimated five percent of K-12 schools are now powered by solar, with their collective capacity having doubled in the past three years. The ROI for districts can be significant: One school system in California is projected to save $80 million over 25 years from its 22-megawatt installation. Individuals can achieve positive returns, too. EnergySage has estimated energy bill savings of up to $30,000 over 20 years for residential customers with 5-megawatt rooftop solar installations.
Plus, solar financing has become more straightforward for property owners with the introduction of options such as Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE). C-PACE allows 100 percent of solar and energy efficiency upgrades to be financed as a voluntary property tax assessment on a building for up to 30 years, making it a better option than cash purchases or capital leases for many commercial buyers. C-PACE financing can even be transferred during the sale of a property.
The solar market is in good shape at the moment
The cost of residential solar power systems declined 9 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to EnergySage. As manufacturing processes have improved and materials costs declined, rooftop solar has become more appealing.
Will these trends continue? Much depends on developments in international trade and tax policy. There is some uncertainty going into 2018 about how the World Trade Organization may respond to possible tariff implementations in certain markets, which could affect panel prices. Tax code modifications in some jurisdictions, as well as legislation pertaining to issues such as adding assessments to buildings, also bear watching due to their effects on incentives for solar developers and customers.
As a leading manufacturer of a wide array of solar solutions, Trina Solar is committed to providing the excellent quality customers of all stripes now expect from rooftop systems. Learn more by exploring our products and solutions page.