The U.S. has enough installed solar energy capacity to power 4.6 million homes. Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of total new power generation in 2014, exceeding coal and wind energy but lagging behind natural gas. In just nine years, the installed cost of solar energy has fallen by more than 73 percent – setting up the industry for explosive growth.
TriplePundit spoke with Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of EnergySage, the so-called "Expedia of solar," about solar energy trends and what to expect for 2016 in the residential market.
“The residential solar market is a vibrant $7 billion industry, and on track to generate more revenue by year-end 2016 than Major League Baseball,” Aggarwal said. “The economics of solar are rapidly changing for solar shoppers, installers and financiers alike."
Lack of understanding prevails, making transparency by the solar installers and unbiased third-party sources of information especially important for solar shoppers to make informed choices. Solar system owners can typically save a lot on utility bills, but lack of information plagues the industry.
"Solar has migrated from being a niche, environmentally-driven product to one where financial savings are driving the interest in solar," Aggarwal explained. "Many consumers have misconceptions that solar is very expensive and may not pay off. We are working to help consumers realize that solar can actually be very financially rewarding."
EnergySage, which has been described as the "Expedia of solar," allows consumers to comparison-shop for solar, with simple, clear information. Because it is not affiliated with a manufacturer, financing company or installer, shoppers have access to objective third-party information and can get quotes from pre-screened solar companies for a true apples-to-apples comparison. Such services are necessary for solar consumers to find the best solar solution for their situation, possibly saving thousands in the process.
Now that solar has proven itself as a safe, low-risk, high-return investment in many regions, it is much easier to obtain financing for solar technology. Low-interest loans with as little as no money down are available to solar shoppers, reducing the hurdles to solar ownership. It is also making solar ownership more appealing and advantageous than solar leases to many homeowners.
Image credit: 1) Pixabay 2) Sarah Lozanova
Sarah Lozanova is an environmental journalist and copywriter and has worked as a consultant to help large corporations become more sustainable. She is the author of Humane Home: Easy Steps for Sustainable & Green Living, and her renewable energy experience includes residential and commercial solar energy installations. She teaches green business classes to graduate students at Unity College and holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School.