A number of financial experts—not just solar advocates—are already predicting that 2015 will be a great year for solar power in U.S. As solar power technologies continue to drop in price and more companies are familiar with them, it’s becoming increasingly popular for homes, businesses and even utilities.
“2014 has been the start of consumers and utilities alike understanding the positive impact solar can make,” wrote Daily Finance’s Travis Hoium. He added that the majority of new megawatts of solar power that came online in 2014 were only in California and Arizona. “So this isn't a nationwide trend—yet.” That’s largely because of giant projects like the 377 megawatt Ivanpah concentrated solar power system and the 550 megawatt Topaz Solar Farm.
However, looking forward to 2015 and beyond Houim anticipated that rooftop solar will become competitive with utility prices in more states and that by 2017 it could be competitive in 28 states.
Houim added: “It’s possible that 2015 will be the first year in which over half of new electricity generation capacity in the U.S. will come from solar. It's also likely that the industry will start to solve its intermittency issue, installing energy storage in a growing percentage of homes that decide to go solar. Both would be big milestones for the industry.”
Solar is facing some pressure from falling oil prices—at least in the near term. But Rick Roberts with Financial Advisor Magazine wrote that analysts anticipate that the lower oil prices won’t have an impact near term demand for solar. That’s largely because the spread of solar is largely a result of government policies. Solar stocks are lower right now, but the demand remains and analysts anticipate they’ll rise after the initial knee-jerk reaction of lower oil prices.
Solar, at least in the U.S., will face another hurdle when the Investment Tax Credit is reduced from 30 percent in 2017 to 10 percent for commercial and 0 percent from residential. However, Roberts noted that analysts predict the lowered incentive level will actually be a boon to solar in the long-term. He said analysts are predicting that even without subsidies solar is expected to be cheaper than fossil-fuel in 34 states by 2020, thanks to the continued annual 10 percent price decline in solar modules.
“The potential growth for the solar industry isn't measured in billions of dollars, it's measured in trillions, and in 2015 we'll begin to see the industry's leaders take a larger role in our overall energy future and spread their wings across the country,” Houim said. “Like it or not, solar energy is coming to a town near you.”Tweet