The cost of installing an average-sized rooftop solar system in the United States has almost halved since 2007, and the number of households with solar is skyrocketing, the Union of Concerned Scientists has reported.
Further, the continually declining costs of solar and the plentiful sunshine hours in many parts of the US have meant that solar in increasingly capable of competing with grid electricity. The USC has estimated that by 2017 over half of US states could have rooftop solar that is cheaper than grid electricity, and that’s without government incentives.
The increasing popularity of solar leasing, from companies such as SolarCity, Sunrun, and SunPower, is contributing to the skyrocketing number of households installing solar. Leasing companies typically offer little or no upfront costs, in exchange for the homeowner paying a monthly fee for the power generated.
Alternatively, if buying outright, the UCS points out that in leading solar energy states, a 5 kilowatt solar system can now cost homeowners less than $10,000, after tax credits, rebates and other support are taken into account.
As you can see in the graphic below, back in 2006 only about 30,000 households had rooftop solar installed. By 2013, that had grown more than 1000% to 400,000. The US Energy Information Administration conservatively estimates that the number of homes with solar will reach 1 million by 2020. The US Department of Energy projects that the number could well hit nearly 4,000,000 by 2020, if cost reductions continue. We won’t have to wait long to find out who is correct.