3 Industry Changes that Slashed Solar Panel Prices In 2015

By Yani Smith

Barack Obama speaking in Asheville N.C. on October 5 2008.

Tax incentives and reduced manufacturing costs have driven solar prices down to an all time low in the US.

The idea of using a clean energy source such as solar always sounded appealing for many home owners, however high costs meant this simply wasn’t possible in the past.

In 2015, that all changed.

This year, a dramatic drop in solar panel prices made it a reality that home owners can finally save money on their power costs while contributing to a healthier future.

Whats more, 2015’s solar price-shakeup has occurred in tandem with tax credits that hit the sweet spot of reliability and accessibility for individual citizens (more on that later).

In turn, it’s been a record breaking year for the number of residential solar installations across the United States.

According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research, the United States is moving at lightening pace towards completing it’s one millionth solar installation in 2015 [1]. Finally, it seems, solar has broken the threshold and become a fully fledged, profitable option for Americans.

Historically, solar was simply too expensive for regular households, but that is no longer the case. Largely due to the increase in production and economies of scale, rooftop solar is now more affordable than ever.

According to GTM Research's Shyam Mehta, there has been a "end-market mix shift toward rooftop applications, and reduced all-in costs for high-efficiency products." [1]

According to GTM Research’s Shyam Mehta, there has been a “end-market mix shift toward rooftop applications, and reduced all-in costs for high-efficiency products.” [1]

What’s more, technology such as installation brackets have advanced, meaning installations can be done significantly faster and cheaper.

According to Renewable Energy World’s Solar Outlook 2015[2], “the U.S. industry is enjoying a host of feeders: low PV prices, new emphasis on greenhouse gas reductions, a U.S. President with a pro-green energy agenda, better utility understanding of its grid benefits and a growing desire among consumers to use locally controlled energy.”

Tax Credits on Solar Panels

One such emphasis is the 30% investment tax credit available to residents who install solar panels.

California residents can also take advantage of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) rebate program. The program was developed to create 3,000MW of new solar energy within the next two years. 

Take advantage of tax incentives while you still can however. It’s due to be winding down in 2016.

“That’s likely to encourage people to install solar sooner rather than later,” says Renewable Energy World’s Elisa Wood. [2]

Similar urgency to take advantage of the solar tax credit is being expressed by leaders across the industry.

Tom Leyden, CEO of Solar Grid Storage, expects “a frenzied effort by the industry and buyers to jump on the solar band wagon before the end of the 30 percent ITC”. [2]

Reliable Solar Financing

Solar-friendly financing models have been refined to better suit the needs of customers wanting to install small scale residential solar panels.

Financing options come in all shapes and sizes depending on the home-owners needs.

One stand-out and increasingly common option is where a third-party owns and maintains the system. The panels supply your house with electricity, and any excess is sold back into the grid.

Leasing and lease-to-own options reduce your upfront costs as you pay for the system on a monthly basis.

Conclusion: Now is the Time to Go Solar

2015 is the year of solar energy in the United States. It has become the smart option for clean residential energy at a time of burgeoning energy crisis and destabilizing events such as drought in California.

Cheaper manufacturing prices, a maturing industry, smart tax credits, and dynamic financing models allow more people to invest in their own future through clean energy.

By Yani Smith

If you are interested in learning more about solar in your area, Click Here To Find An Accredited Local Solar Professional.

Article References

[1] http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/The-Most-Important-Trends-in-Solar-in-8-Charts
[2] http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/01/solar-outlook-2015-still-growing-but-no-longer-energys-young-kid
[3] http://www.solarpowerrocks.com/california/
[4] http://www.sullivansolarpower.com/purchase-agreement
[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/03/17/california-could-power-itself-three-to-five-times-over-with-solar/
[6] http://www.solarcity.com/
[7] http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/solar.html
[8] http://www.dsireusa.org/

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