Solar power is on the way to becoming mainstream in the United States, GTM Research has concluded.
The VP of Research at GTM, Shayle Kann, devised a checklist to help ascertain how close solar is to going mainstream in the U.S., The Energy Collective has reported. Here are some of the factors that led to the positive conclusion.
In 2013, solar has become a primary source of new electricity capacity. In fact, as we recently reported, this year it’s very likely that the United States will install more solar capacity than the world leader, Germany. There have been big increases in all areas of installation, especially residential solar. Further, GTM has concluded that this is only the beginning of the proverbial hockey stick graph for solar capacity.
Secondly, solar is getting close to being cost-competitive without the reliance on “fickle” federal or state incentives. It was noted that although incentives for solar are fickle, fossil fuel incentives are still in place, even after many, many decades.
Solar is starting to be taken seriously in the electricity industry. Some old school, fossil fuel-heavy power utilities have started battling solar advocates and initiatives to try and stem the tide, while others have been investing directly in solar to keep pace with the changing energy landscape.
Lastly, solar is partway to being financeable with mainstream sources of investment. The financing of residential solar is growing strongly, with almost a doubling in 2012 alone ($1.2 billion to $2.3 billion). SolarCity’s first $54 million securitization was a major milestone for solar financing. However, solar financing still has a long way to run.
GTM Research conservatively predicts that solar will reach 158 gigawatts of cumulative solar capacity on the grid by 2027, rising from 11 gigawatts today. At that stage it will account for around 15% of overall electric power capacity in the United States, rising from just 0.5% today.