The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the past twelve months to see the future more clearly, so we have pulled together a few of the key events that happened to the solar industry this past year before looking ahead to 2019.
Perhaps the biggest story of 2018 was the 30% tariff imposed on panels that caused almost 10,000 domestic jobs to be lost. After pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and rolling back regulations on power plant-emissions, the current administration began this past year with a threatening blow to the domestic renewable energy industry against overwhelming opposition. Although 80% of products originate outside of the United States, the solar industry was prepared to overcome this challenge and weathered the storm due to high consumer demand for more affordable, cleaner power options.
The unstoppable growth of residential solar was boosted by the dramatic drop in coal, oil and nuclear usage in 2018. According to Exelon senior vice president, William Von Hoene, “Due to their high cost relative to other generating options, no new nuclear power units will be built in the US.”Even utility companies in the mid-west that have traditionally been slow to embrace the emerging renewable energy options are beginning to see the benefits of phasing out fossil fuels. Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) has recently announced they expect the transition to renewable sources will save money — estimating total customer savings of $4 billion over 20 years. And, it will reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2028.
The last year saw more states committing to 100% carbon-free power as well (including New Jersey). Cheaper more affordable battery storage, community solar laws and new housing codes for inclusive renewable power options are a few of the trends that have enhanced the popularity of solar electricity among politicians and constituents alike.
Just as the new Congress agenda includes solutions to climate crisis, policies and initiatives at the local, state, and federal level will likely boost renewable growth in the coming year as well, so many experts predict 2019 will see even more states committing to renewable energy sources including Maryland.
All of these trends and advancing technologies are likely to cause prices for clean energy sources to drop lower than utility electric which will make solar even more accessible for homeowners across the country. “Residential solar will be attractive for homeowners as it is cheaper than retail electricity cost in 40-plus states [of the U.S.].” according to Credit Suisse. The bottom line is that domestic consumers are demanding cleaner, more affordable energy options regardless of the current administration’s policies to the contrary which means the future looks bright for residential solar power!
Written by Sharon Derby