July 29, 2016

Big Implications in the Solar Boom

by Anthony Wright

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about how a series of strong tailwinds were helping to push the solar market to new heights in 2016. The broad global climate agreement signed in Paris late last year, a five-year extension on a beneficial tax credit for solar investment in the United States, and a greater focus on environmental sustainability among businesses all indicated that solar was set for a big 2016.

So far, that’s proved accurate. According to the latest research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), “the U.S. installed 1,665 megawatts of solar PV in Q1 2016 to reach 29.3 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 5.7 million American homes.”

Regulatory impact. The solar industry as a whole is on pace to effectively double in total size by the end of the year, with an unprecedented projected 14.5 GW of capacity to be installed in 2016. SEIA credits much of that progress to the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), combined with a growing number of regions throughout the country where large solar projects are incentivized by the extension, as much of the reason for the growth.

What’s clear here is that the ITC is just as big a factor on the burgeoning solar industry’s growth as it was predicted to be. And with that development, solar becomes a significant contributor to total energy generation in the United States.

It’s not the only way regulatory measures have impacted the solar boom. Right now, California is the place to be for solar energy panel providers, with the state far outstripping other states in terms of solar capacity. That’s due in part to California’s passage of a climate bill requiring 50 percent of utility retail sales to stem from renewable sources by 2050. Watch for similar state-level bills into the future.

What does the future hold? The immediate impact on the building and construction market domestically isn’t crystal clear just yet, but developments are percolating. The construction industry is shifting toward renewable building practices, with building designs accounting for solar panels, among other characteristics. Solar is on the rise in both the residential and commercial markets, as both homeowners and corporations can now more easily reap the benefits of solar. There’s even research being done at the Los Alamos National Laboratory on the creation of solar windows for better integration of solar power into buildings.

No matter where you are in the building and construction industry, we’re working toward a common goal—more sustainable buildings and greater total energy efficiency. The ways in which we can work together are still being hashed out, and it’s exciting to watch where we’re headed.

Questions or comments? Email me directly at Anthony.Wright@Quanex.com

For more information about Quanex visit www.quanex.com
Posted: July 29, 2016 by Anthony Wright Filed under: energy, green, solar, sustainable