Is It Worth Going Solar? Decreasing Solar Prices Have Naysayers Making Noise

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Since the early 2000’s, we’ve seen retail electricity prices steadily rise, about 1.5% per year since 2005. This can be justified due to several different reasons—rising costs of power production, power grid updates and maintenance, transmission and distribution as well as the continued price increase of natural gas. Many solar cynics believe that renewable resources are making electricity more expensive, but the data suggests that this is just not true. Going solar makes sense in a market where we see solar+ storage prices drastically decreasing.

The Impact of Renewable Resources   

A study conducted by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), looked at the impact of renewable resources on power prices, realizing that our power markets are ever-evolving. They found that overall, wind and solar production have both reduced the annual average wholesale prices of electricity. The greatest effect occurred from 2008 through 2012 as the shale boom developed and gas prices plummeted after the ‘08 recession. From 2012 through 2017 this shifted, and we see wind and solar production booming. LBNL then predicts from 2017 through 2022 wholesale costs are projected to increase.

As the prices of electricity in the US slowly rise, natural gas prices used for electric generation continue to fall at an average rate of 8.4% per year since 2006. The study conducted by LBNL shows that where wind and solar penetrations were greatest— California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) for example—we see the biggest decline in prices due to the renewable resources being the greatest in these areas.

Within these particular areas, the markets showed fluctuating reasons for these price declines from renewable resources. CAISO leads the market for solar power, representing a third of all solar power installed across the nation and they also hold the greatest effect. Heavy wind and solar production also contributed to negative pricing moments between 2015 and 2017.

Could Electricity Prices Fall in the Future?

Highly unlikely. The price of natural gas has fallen significantly in recent years, but many expect these prices to rise once America’s gas supply is introduced to international markets. Another contributing factor—climate change. With the rapid fluctuations in extreme temperatures, this drives up the need for electricity as more is needed for heating or cooling. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA), also predicts electricity prices to increase both in short– and long-term instances, regardless of the decreasing prices of wind and solar energy.

Do you have an interest in lowering your energy costs or upgrading your facility to keep up with efficiency and output? Turn to the experts at Intersect Energy! We provide turnkey solutions to our customers, offering assessment, design, financing, installation and management services. Decrease your electricity prices by increasing your solar energy consumption with Intersect! To keep up with all the latest news in renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn.

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Renewable Tax Incentives for the Win in Congress

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For the last five years, homeowners and commercial business owners have enjoyed the benefits of the solar investment tax credit. This tax credit (ITC) allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system to your property from your federal taxes. This saves the shopper on average about $9,000. Now, House Democrats have drafted a clean energy package to extend this tax credit to wind and energy storage industries as well as add another five-year extension. Not only could this advanced tax credit reduce emissions, it could also create thousands of jobs and boost the economy. Enjoying bi-partisan support in the House, this development makes clean energy accessible and affordable for everyday Americans.

The Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now Act (GREEN) outlines revisions to the tax code that extends the ITC and maintains certain incentives for renewables. According to a poll conducted by Global Strategy Group, nationwide, the support for extending this act is at 89%. The poll was conducted with registered voters from 10 swing states and 25 battleground House districts. GSG saw House and Senate voters across the country unite, regardless of their political background, to support renewable energy and the tax incentives it offers.

Arguments supporting the need for solar incentive extensions saw voters nationwide focusing on improvements in health (50%) and aiding the economy (50%) as the top two most important issues with addressing climate change at 46% of voters.

Broken down even further, at the House level, votes resulted in 49% for improvements in health, with climate change and a more favorable economic outcome at 45% and 43%, respectively. In the Senate districts, voters listed health care for an extension as the most important at 47%, with economic arguments and climate change arguments at 45% and 43%, respectively. GSG’s poll also saw negative attacks against the tax incentive do little damage, where nationwide only 32% said they had no major doubts.

Since its inception back in 2005, the ITC has created over 200,000 solar jobs and has generated over $100 billion in solar investments. With more and more important members of Congress recognizing the very real climate change crisis, this tax package has extensive support. The American people—both Republicans and Democrats—are uniting over this important issue, overwhelmingly supporting the need for clean energy. Continuing this initiative with the tax extension could see a rise in solar energy use throughout the U.S., growing the percentage from 2% to even more in the future.

At Intersect Energy, we are an on-site energy company. We offer our customers alternative energy solutions to reduce their environmental impact while maximizing their savings. From assessment, design, financing, installation and management, we do it all. All our projects are carried out with the highest-quality materials and our experienced team provides the best in workmanship to maximize the benefits for our clients. To keep up with all the latest news in the world of renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

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The Bright Future of Solar Power

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Our biggest source of energy, the Sun emits enough energy to completely satisfy the entire human demand for energy for over two hours! In the past few years, we’ve seen a steady rise in the deployment of large-scale solar power operations, with installations over the next few years set to reach a record high. New advancements in technology have increased these record high numbers, making solar paneling more efficient while driving down costs. While there have been a few setbacks in the quest to go solar, recent research conducted by BloombergNEF shows wind and solar energy being the least expensive forms of power in over two-thirds of the world.

Technological Advances to Power the Future  

Solar power technology is in a constant state of innovation, with new advancements being announced almost every week. This year, we’ve seen advancements in solar skin design, solar powered roads, wearable solar and solar batteries, as well as bifacial PV modules and the growing application of single-axis trackers. By the end of 2019, the solar industry is set to grow 17.5% because of decreasing costs of photovoltaics (PV) and storage technologies that were not anticipated a few years back.

Why Solar Is The Answer

Although manufacturing solar panels does use some fossil fuel, the overall use is significantly less than the use of fossil fuels in generation of power. Burning fossil fuels emits several  harmful pollutants into the air that can potentially damage the environment and the public’s health. The economic cost of this is exponential, estimating costs around $9 trillion between 1970 and 2000. Not only that, fossil fuels are limited—meaning they will run out eventually. The cost of solar has decreased by over half in the last decade, making fossil fuels increasingly less competitive.

One reported drawback with solar energy—it’s limited availability to daytime hours—is being quickly resolved with the development of advanced solar storage systems. These storage systems capture energy produced throughout the day to be used at a later time. California, more specifically Northern California, is well versed in the use of these storage systems due to the recent increase in city wide blackouts that have been overwhelming many counties across the state. However, the cost of these energy storage systems has decreased over the years making them extremely accessible and useful for facilities, residences and businesses who live near these mandatory blackouts. California and Nevada both recently signed power purchase agreements for more solar megawatts as well as additional battery storage.

The second major drawback of solar is the current state of technology isn’t as efficient as it can be, wasting a large chunk of the sun’s power. But, with the rapidly decreasing cost of technology combined with the advancements in solar and how it is being stored, we see less and less power being wasted.

Breathing Easy

Not only beneficial to the environment and the economy, renewable energy creates a positive impact on the air we breathe. A study conducted by MIT predicted that by 2030, if U.S. states hit their target goal of 13% renewable energy, we could see a decrease in healthcare costs ($4.7 billion) due to reduced air pollution. The use of renewable energy resources reduces the risk of cardio and respiratory issues among a slew of other health benefits.

What does this mean for the future of solar? The outlook is bright. With all the technological advancements we’ve seen through the years like efficiency upgrades, solar storage enhancements and the improvement of solar equipment capabilities, it all points to a more effective and efficient future for solar energy.

At Intersect Energy, we are an on-site energy company. We have developed solar, CHP, fuel cell and wind projects for commercial and industrial clients across New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. With our turnkey service we provide to our customers, we deliver an average of 20% cost savings in energy. To keep up with all the latest news in the world of renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

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