A report from GTM Research suggested that solar energy would grow by 119 percent in the U.S. in 2016. With a new president setting foot in the White House in 2017, solar and other renewables will face a changing political environment. In anticipation of the 45th President taking office, let’s look at some of the new trends that could affect solar energy through 2017 and beyond.
In the 2016 election cycle, solar and wind PACs donated to both sides of the aisle, hoping to build a strong base of support among politicians for renewable energy and green jobs. Their commitment to building diverse coalitions and demonstrating the connection between green energy and employment can serve the sector well under a new president looking to add 25 million jobs to the U.S. economy.
Last year, Congress extended the 30 percent tax credit for solar projects through 2019. This gives solar a solid base of support for the immediate future.
Throughout 2016, we have seen increased investments in community solar projects. These solar assets can be used to power multiple businesses and residences in the community. Since anyone can benefit from these projects without needing to own a roof for solar panels or have full sun exposure, community solar extends the benefits of solar energy to new sectors. Together, the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado installed over 100 megawatts of community solar in 2016 alone. Expect more of these projects going forward.
With the Paris agreement now in force, the world will see an increased commitment to renewable energy played out through direct investment in renewables on a global scale. Experts expect this trend to remain strong in the U.S., due to the strong connection between clean energy and job creation.
Much of solar’s initial growth in the U.S. took place in urban areas; however, rural communities are starting to see the advantage of solar. States including Texas and South Carolina are planning solar projects, which will pave the way for good jobs in rural communities that need them. As these first-line projects prove successful, we can expect more solar projects in rural areas.
As states, cities, and individuals continue to invest in solar photovoltaic, jobs creation should keep rising. Already, jobs in solar grew at 12 times the overall rate of job creation – a clear sign of what to expect.
New innovations extend the utility of solar and decrease costs associated with installation. Tesla made waves recently when it announced a new line of solar roof tiles, which are compatible with Tesla’s home battery storage system. As PV manufacturing costs come down, we can expect to see a new line of innovative solar products coming to market.
Clean Energy Advisors will continue to monitor new trends affecting solar energy, with the goal of making a positive impact on the world and for investors through smart investments in renewables. Whatever comes to pass in solar energy in the year to come, we’ll keep you informed.