The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a report on February 22, 2016 regarding new energy sources built in the U.S. in 2015. According to the report, more new solar PV systems were installed than natural gas plants across the country for the first time in history.
For a nation that has historically relied on coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels, this is a big moment for several reasons.
It has long been known that solar PV systems help to alleviate stress on our environment by reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, but until recently, solar energy hasn’t been recognized as the sound financial investment that it is.
Solar energy systems can greatly reduce the cost of your electric bill and even eliminate it altogether. Escaping the volatile cycle of utility rate fluctuations has brought peace of mind for many homeowners and businesses in the last year. And while you’ll still need to pay for the cost of your PV system, your payments will be low and predictable, unlike your electric bill. The addition of financing options has only made this process easier. Thanks to solar loans and leases, affording a solar energy system has become a reality for many.
Because solar PV systems reduce reliance on fossil fuels, they also help the U.S. economy by increasing our energy independence. Investing that money into our own economy helps to make us more self-sufficient and less reliant on foreign sources of oil, of which there is not an infinite supply.
Believe it or not, solar modules have been available since the 1950s. Early modules were quite large and equally inefficient. In the last 60 years, new developments in photovoltaic technology have allowed solar modules to become smaller in size and much more efficient, significantly reducing the cost per watt. Now, solar modules can have a variety of different attributes: bifacial, frameless, monocrystalline, and polycrystalline, to name a few.
As solar module technology continues to advance, so do solar racking and mounting options. PV modules can be mounted on rooftops (roof mount), in large open areas (ground mount), or even atop carports (also called a solar canopy). These solar mounting systems can come with an array of specifications to withstand weather elements and optimize module performance. Like solar modules, solar racking and mounting systems have become more lightweight and durable in the last several years.
As the popularity of solar PV systems increases, the cost of such a system continues to drop and will likely continue to do so over the next few years. With the extension of the federal tax credit for purchasers of solar energy systems, 2016 is the year to make the switch. There is no guarantee that the tax credit will be extended in 2017, so now is the time to act while savings are high.