In Ohio and throughout the United States, the past three or four years have been historical. Each year, experts look at the market and make predictions about the next year. And lately, when we look back after those subsequent years have passed, the data proves the forecasts were either on target or too conservative. Starting around 2011, the growth in installation sites and installed capacity has rocketed, and in only one year did final results not exceed most estimates. Market observers attribute this to the changing culture, increased value with decreasing costs, and a greater number of participants each year. More companies make comments to their energy independence each year. More homeowners take the leap and choose to go solar. And, perhaps most convincing, a rapidly growing number of utilities are getting own board with both policies and their own large scale activities.
People are Becoming More Supportive
Public perception is a vital part of the adoption of new technology. It also is an indicator of the value people place on the impact such technology has on their lives and the lives of others. With solar energy systems, data has proven that homeowners who invest in solar not only increase the future sales price of their property, but they also increase their appraised value, and hence their equity. Perception is key to this trend.
We are getting deeper into the political season. And that means that polling on issues and concerns escalates just as polling on candidates surges. So there is new data on solar topics. Two key polls in August and November of 2015 give us insight into how the public sees clean energy and policy to facilitate its adoption, such as the Clean Power Plan. Ohio voters were included in both, and some key findings are encouraging:
- The Clean Power Plan is backed by a diverse, broad-based coalition, including majorities of women (67%), men (60%), Democrats (80%), Independents (61%), young voters (68%), and seniors (64%).
- By a sizeable 53/40 split, Ohioans think that the state should be investing more in clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind instead of traditional sources like coal, oil, and gas.
- Climate change is an increasingly important issue for Ohio voters. 60% have reached the consensus that climate change is a serious problem, with 35% of those saying that it is a “very serious” problem.
- In general, of all voters surveyed, 59% say states should move forward and develop a plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. Two thirds of Ohio voters said they are in favor of a plan that would cut overall carbon dioxide emissions.
More about some poll results is available here.
More Trends Favor Solar
We have already shared some of the trends of increased adoption of solar technology and signs of robust business. And it is this type of phenomena that give analysts the confidence that 2016 and the next few years will be especially active.
In 2015 for the first time ever, solar beat out natural gas capacity additions, with solar supplying 29.4% of all new electric generating capacity brought on-line in the U.S. With over 9 GW of utility scale solar capacity already contracted or announced for 2016, solar will likely beat natural gas again in new additions. These planned utility projects are nearly triple the activity in 2015.
This year some analysts think the U.S. will finally pass Germany as a leader in installed solar capacity, competing with Japan and China. In fact, solar energy installations may increase at a greater rate in the U.S. than in any other country in 2016.
The Solar Energy Industries Association routinely commissions GTM Research to study the past, look at trends, and predict the near future. The most recent study is especially encouraging and predicts a very noteworthy 2016. Like others, this analysis sees a spike in utility activity, but also anticipates significant increases in residential installations.
More Participants Are on Board
We have already mentioned the growing adoption of solar technology by utilities. But another industry is joining the clean energy trends more every year.
Builders are taking the leap from the familiar – from offering ENERGY STAR and LEED certified projects – to offering solar energy options in design and build, including homes. Companies nationwide like Bozutto, Beazer, and KB Homes have transitioned from constructing increasingly more energy efficient homes to now offering Net Zero homes.
Even smaller local builders in Ohio are jumping on board. For example, Decker Homes has over a 30 year history in the Toledo area. They pride themselves on the company’s commitment to building award-winning and environmentally sound developments and homes. The company is directly promoting buyers to consider solar as they make choices in a new build. As many contractors have found, there is tremendous synergy and cost benefits in creating extremely efficient, well-insulated homes that reduce load requirements. Such homes require an even smaller solar energy system to offset a greater proportion of usage.
Most builders work with local, professional installers who are expert in both design and permitting, and are therefore able to add a system at a lower cost. Builders have a long list of things to address outside of learning solar. And many potential new home buyers look for builders and solar installers at the same time with the same rigor.
The Message to You
Just as the past few years have proven that distributed solar and large scale utility solar is here to stay, 2016 promises to be a great year. Analysts may often be overly optimistic, but comparing forecasts to results since around 2011 shows most solar analysts are relatively conservative when looking at the domestic market. Prices are at all-time lows, public perception is at an all-time high, and more investors and companies get involved every day. Clean energy is good for Ohio, but it is also good for each homeowner. No longer is it a question of being a souond technology choice, it is simply a matter of affordability and finances.
Interested in learning more about YellowLite’s renewable energy solutions? Reach out to us today to learn more.