Even as Tesla announced pricing for its Solar Roof, SolarWorld announced its insolvency. It was that type of week for the solar industry, mostly good news, but mixed with some bad news. For instance, solar power topped two new lists and most states showed strong progress on solar, but at least one—Indiana—moved backwards on solar power.
Tesla introduced the pricing for its new Solar Roof, claiming it will be less expensive than similar roofs—when everything is accounted for, including the power the roof produces. The company said its product will cost $21.85 per square foot, which it contended is less the average $24.50 per square foot cost of a normal roof.
In two new reports—including one from the Department of Energy—solar proved itself as tops in the US. New data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed that solar power is the fastest growing source of electricity in the US. Between 2010 and 2016 solar power grew at an average rate of 72 percent a year, EIA stated, reaching 21.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar online at the end of 2016.
Another new study from SmartAsset reaffirmed other findings that solar power is becoming a major source of new jobs across the US. The study used Bureau of Labor Statistics data to ascertain which positions were producing the most new jobs in the US and found that solar topped the list.
Despite that that positive news the solar industry still faces challenges. Particularly on the manufacturing side. Last week SolarWorld filed for insolvency in Germany. The international solar panel manufacturer, with operations in Oregon, became the latest to file for bankruptcy. Just last month another US solar panel manufacturer, Suniva, also filed for bankruptcy. Both cases show how competitive it’s become to manufacture silicon solar panels.
In politics it also was a mixed bag for renewable energy. At the federal level a bipartisan group of legislators created the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus to support the expansion and growth of energy storage systems across the US. Expanded energy storage could make it easier to bring more solar power online.
The news also was positive in Virginia where Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed 11 clean energy bills into law. The new laws will support an expansion of solar, offshore wind and creates a community solar pilot program in the state, among other things.
The news wasn’t so positive in Indiana. There Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed State Bill 309 into law. The new legislation will end net-metering in the state by 2022. Renewable energy and solar advocates criticized the signature.
Still, solar power continues to boom across the country. In Minnesota solar is booming. Last year the northern state installed 207 megawatts of solar power, a record for the state. This year it’s already seen 203 megawatts of solar power come online and expects 600 megawatts to come online this year.Tweet