15 Aug 2011: Report

A Solar Panel on Every Roof?
In U.S., Still a Distant Dream

Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off. But with do-it-yourself kits and other innovative installation approaches now on the market, residential solar is having modest growth. 

by dave levitan

It seems like the ultimate in green technology for an emissions-savvy citizen of the 21st century: solar panels on your roof, providing carbon dioxide-free electricity whenever the sun is shining. But as huge utility-scale solar and wind projects continue to make news and the economy continues to struggle, the state of the residential solar sector in the United States remains decidedly mixed.

From the first quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter, installations of U.S. residential solar systems rose from 62 megawatts to 74 megawatts (enough to power about 15,000 homes), and the Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the first quarter of 2011 saw similar gains over the same period in 2010. Considering that the total installed solar capacity in the U.S. — residential, commercial, and industrial-scale of all types included — still hasn’t cracked 3,000 megawatts (enough to power roughly 600,000 homes), this feels like progress.

Yet if you look at residential solar’s share of the total U.S. solar market, the picture is less bright. In 2009, 36 percent of all installed solar systems were on homes; this dropped to 30 percent in 2010, and some experts think that
Prices of solar panels are steadily coming down, but are still not low enough to prompt a mass movement to solar.
will continue to fall.

“The way the U.S. solar market is really headed is toward utility projects,” said MJ Shiao, a solar markets analyst with Greentech Media Research. He noted that the growth from the first quarter of 2010 to 2011 was about 14 percent in the residential market, compared with an impressive 119 percent for non-residential sectors. Just last week, the U.S. Interior Department approved First Solar’s 4,100-acre solar project in the California desert, which is expected to generate enough electricity to power 165,000 homes.

“These other market sectors are really taking off,” Shiao said. “That’s not to say that residential isn’t growing. It’s sort of plodding along.”

In some European countries — most notably Germany — generous government incentive programs and ambitious renewable energy targets have created a far more robust solar sector, including residential solar. In 2010 alone, Germany installed 7,400 megawatts of photovoltaic systems — more than double the entire existing solar capacity in the U.S. About 700 megawatts came from 100,000 small, residential-sized systems. Shiao said that Germany’s and Italy’s solar markets have traditionally been driven by residential and small commercial installations.

The primary issue stopping most U.S. homeowners from putting solar panels on their roofs is cost. Solar systems are expensive — on the order of $20,000 to $25,000 or more, depending on the system’s size and other factors. And even though these systems can end up paying for themselves in the long run with lower electricity bills, most families cannot find tens of thousands of dollars for the upfront costs. Prices of solar panels are steadily coming down, but are still not low enough to prompt a mass movement to solar, especially at a time of economic stagnation.

Photovoltaic solar panel residential
Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock
In 2009, 36 percent of all installed solar systems were on homes; this dropped to 30 percent in 2010.
Because of this, the main drivers of residential solar installations are state and federal incentives that help defray those costs, yet even these are in jeopardy as governments at all levels slash budgets. Everyone in the country can take advantage of a federal renewable energy tax credit; this reduces the costs of a solar installation by 30 percent, and since 2009 there is no maximum on the total amount. Beyond that, several states dominate the market because their incentives are so strong.

The California Solar Initiative has helped make the country’s biggest state also the biggest residential solar market. So far, more than 50,000 installed systems have a total capacity of more than 240 megawatts; another 10,000 applications are waiting to add another 50 megawatts to the total. The initiative allows homeowners an upfront rebate based on how many installed megawatts the state has — the idea being that as the market takes off and as costs of solar drop, people will need less government help to prosper and the rebate will drop in value. At the moment, the initiative is in step 8 out of 10, meaning that a residential system can get back 35 cents per watt; this is down from $2.50 per watt when the program began. A typical installation ranges from two to 10 kilowatts, meaning the rebate can be upward of $2,000.

While California matches its sunny reputation with a relatively strong solar market, other states have emerged as less likely solar powerhouses. New Jersey trails only California in total installed solar power, and as of late July the state surpassed 10,000 total installed solar arrays. The bulk of the
The unanswered question is whether solar can thrive without strong state and federal financial incentives.
market is for commercial-sized projects, like a giant 9 megawatt array on the roof of the Gloucester Marine Terminal, but state policies have also pushed residential solar. However, under Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey ended its upfront rebate program last year, although it still offers ongoing incentives through the Solar Renewable Energy Certificates program. Christie also abandoned the previous administration’s goal of getting 30 percent of the state’s power from renewable sources by 2020, reducing that target to 22.5 percent.

Looking a few years out, the federal 30 percent tax credit for commercial solar projects will drop to 10 percent in 2016, and may disappear altogether for residential projects. The unanswered question is whether the solar industry can thrive without such strong federal and state financial incentives.

Some experts, though, don’t think the incentives are the only driver of the residential solar market. According to Michael Woodhouse, an analyst with the National Renewal Energy Laboratory, the economics of solar photovoltaics are better than many make them out to be.

“When people say PV will never compete without subsidies, that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me,” Woodhouse said. “That’s a really incomplete picture.” The key, he said, is to look at the cost of electricity on a regional and state level rather than overall. Woodhouse has conducted analyses of several specific locales. For example, in Santa Barbara, California, he said that right now, when the 30 percent federal tax credit for solar is included, residential solar power costs about 13.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. The average price of electricity across the state, meanwhile – meaning, from all sources – is 15.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. In other words, solar power might already have achieved “grid parity” in Santa Barbara.

In other places, solar power is not close to grid parity. In St. Louis, Missouri, the cost of residential solar power is more than double the 8-cent per kilowatt-hour average of traditional electricity sources.

“The best economics for PV are in places where you have a good solar resource and expensive traditional electricity,” Woodhouse said. “There is no simple answer for this: when will PV compete with fossil fuels? It already does, it just depends on where we’re talking about.”

For one subset of the population, there is a way around at least some of the upfront costs involved with a home installation: install it yourself. In recent years, do-it-yourself solar has begun to go mainstream, with stores like Home Depot now selling solar installation kits. At Lowes, a package of 13
The most promising trend in residential solar power is the third-party ownership model.
185-watt panels (enough for a small 2.4 kilowatt system) and all the hardware required to install them costs $9,219.

On the other end of the spectrum from the do-it-yourselfer lie people who would like to have solar panels on a roof in theory, but don’t want to pay for them, install them, or even have the responsibility of owning them at all. Enter the most promising trend in residential solar power: the third party ownership model.

Adam Shuster of Ashland, Massachusetts took advantage of this model, under which a company installs, maintains, and owns a home’s panels and charges a fixed rate for the electricity they generate. In 2008, Shuster looked into putting solar panels on his family home’s roof, but decided it simply cost too much. But his ten-year-old son, Kenny, kept pushing him to look a bit harder.

“At one point I said to [Kenny], ‘You know, it could look kind of ugly on the house,’” Shuster recalled. Kenny countered: “Would you rather have an ugly planet and a good-looking house, or a good-looking planet and an ugly house?” In September 2009, the ten-year-old got to flip the switch that turned on a 20-panel, five-kilowatt photovoltaic system. His family is now generating about a third of its home’s power needs from the sun, saving about $75 per year on total electricity bills, and producing a third less carbon emissions as a result.

Several companies – notably SunRun, Sungevity, and Solar City – now will install a solar system on a homeowner’s roof for little or no upfront cost. The homeowner pays a set price to the installing company for the electricity the system generates, and the company also takes care of maintenance and repair.

Susan Wise, a spokesperson for SunRun, said her company grew at 300 percent in 2010 and expects to at least double again in 2011; she says that they now install $1 million of solar panels every day. “We let homeowners switch to solar without having to put thousands of dollars up front,” she said. “And they don’t have to deal with owning the technology. That’s a huge thing for lots of people. They don’t want the panels, they just want power.”

Though SunRun’s installations rarely are big enough to produce all of a home’s electricity, Wise said, the price of the solar portion of a home’s power tends to be five to ten percent lower than the utility’s portion at the start of the contract. Also, the third-party owners offer 18- and 20-year contracts with a locked-in price. Since utility electricity rates historically have risen consistently, a homeowner could save thousands of dollars over the life of a contract.


Green Energy’s Challenge:
The Task of Scaling Up

Green Energy’s Big Challenge: The Daunting Task of Scaling Up
To shift the global economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy will require the construction of wind, solar, nuclear, and other installations on a vast scale, David Biello writes. Can these new forms of energy approach the scale needed to meet the world’s energy demands?
This corner of the market seems to be the fastest growing. Shiao of GTM Research said that in January of 2010, none of the solar installations in Colorado — which is among the top states for total solar installations — were third-party owned; only a year later, third party ownership accounted for 35 percent of the solar arrays installed. Notably, though, these companies rely on federal and state incentives, as well, and tend to follow the money to certain states. SunRun currently installs systems in nine states; Sungevity is in eight.

Another promising long-term trend for residential solar is that solar panels continue to drop in cost, and fairly drastically. Woodhouse said that in 2008, the price of a manufacturing a solar panel was about $4 per watt. Now, $1.50 per watt or below isn’t out of the question.

“The cost reductions in PV are really remarkable,” he said. “And there is every reason to believe that they will continue. We’re not even close to hitting the bottom of cost reduction potential.”

POSTED ON 15 Aug 2011 IN Business & Innovation Energy Energy Oceans Policy & Politics Pollution & Health North America North America 


Good article. Just the last paragraph is a bit misleading - the costs of solar would not drop as drastically anymore (you cannot compare with 2008 for costs when the industry was at a very nascent stage).

The key to look forward is standardization in permitting and installation procedures to remove the extra non material, non-labor costs.

Posted by Mustafa B on 15 Aug 2011

If government agencies would get thier heads out of their offices and look at the bigger picture I'm sure they would find more creative ways of using resources already in place. For instance subsidies given to farmers to NOT grow crops could be given, instead, to farmers willing to lease thier unused land to power companies for commercial solar energy production. Replacing fallow fields with feilds of solar panels. Also, the military has fleets of nuclear power plants in thier nuclear powered vessels. If those vessels were "plugged" into the grid while in port the power generated could reduce the amount spent on electrical power for military bases, not only reducing military spending but also reducing pressure on the grid. Just some thoughts to get ideas flowing.

Posted by Larry Kinder on 15 Aug 2011

Excellent article. Yes.Residential solar power systems are yet to be popular as the cost of PV and efficiency are still constraints. With improved materials like Gallium Arsenide,Gallium Phosphide,Organic polymer and mass production ,it is expected Solar Pv for Rooftop installations may become popular.

In India there is an ambitious Solar Energy Plan.

The National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change.

Objectives and Targets
The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in
solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as
quickly as possible.

The Mission will adopt a 3-phase approach, spanning the remaining period of the
11th Plan and first year of the 12th Plan (up to 2012-13) as Phase 1, the remaining 4
years of the 12th Plan (2013-17) as Phase 2 and the 13th Plan (2017-22) as Phase 3.
At the end of each plan, and mid-term during the 12th and 13th Plans, there will be an
evaluation of progress, review of capacity and targets for subsequent phases, based
on emerging cost and technology trends, both domestic and global. The aim would
be to protect Government from subsidy exposure in case expected cost reduction
does not materialize or is more rapid than expected.

The immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment
for solar technology penetration in the country both at a centralized and
decentralized level. The first phase (up to 2013) will focus on capturing of the low hanging options in solar thermal; on promoting off-grid systems to serve populations without access to commercial energy and modest capacity addition in grid-based systems. In the second phase, after taking into account the experience of the initial years, capacity will be aggressively ramped up to create conditions for up scaled and competitive solar energy penetration in the country.

To achieve this, the Mission targets are:

• To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW
of solar power by 2022.
• To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW
within three years – by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the
mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a
preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled – reaching
10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and
enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target
for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the ‘learning’ of the first
two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid-competitive
solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on
availability of international finance and technology.
• To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly
solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.
• To promote programmes for off grid applications, reaching 1000 MW by 2017
and 2000 MW by 2022 .
• To achieve 15 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20
million by 2022.
• To deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
Wind Energy Expert
E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

Posted by Dr.A.Jagadeesh on 15 Aug 2011

Great article, I have to agree that the prices for domestic solar panels are just not affordable. I
found this out the other after using a calculator online to give me a rough price http://www.buy-solar-roof-panels.com/2011/08/16/the-cost-of-solar-panels/

No idea "rough" it is but with those prices even with a tax rebate it is just too expensive.

Posted by Don on 16 Aug 2011

Hailstone get BIG in some places. The record is almost 2 pounds, and baseball-sized hailstones are reported almost every year.

In many states you would have trouble getting your homeowner's insurance to cover a home solar installation.

Posted by tadchem on 16 Aug 2011

I just got a quote for my home here in Austin. After all the rebates, it would still cost me 19 grand.

I wouldn't break even for another 60 years.

I want solar panels, I would love to see my meter roll backwards, but the reality is: until the price per kilowatt remains high, solar panels will never be an option for the middle and lower middle class.

Just a fact.

Posted by Will on 17 Aug 2011

Here is mine, in AZ and the costs associated with the install:


Posted by howard johnson on 18 Aug 2011

I project a 6 or 7 year payback in Massachusetts thanks to federal and state rebates and tax savings and to SRECs =Solar renewable energy credits which now go for about $500/MW or 50cents/kwh. This means a check in the mail about 4X year. Plus, of course, not having any electricity bills for 7 or 8 months of the year.

You can this all with a cheap home equity loan for he up front costs and still come out way ahead.

Posted by Tom S on 18 Aug 2011

I think there must be a misprint in this article: Kenny's house only saves $75 per year using a 5kw system? Perhaps it should be $750? This would seem more likely in terms of typical electricity costs and payback periods.

I know a couple who are very into conservation, but they have refused to go solar because of how it would "look". This article raises the point, and I love Kenny's response. More discussion on this stigma as well as other local ordinance restrictions would be great.

Posted by Ross Geredien on 18 Aug 2011

Ross -- thanks for your comment. The Shusters are indeed saving about $75/year with their solar system to this point. The important thing to remember with the third-party ownership model of SunRun, Sungevity, Solar City, and others is that the homeowner locks in a rate for the power for 18 or 20 years. Over that period, in all likelihood, utility rates will rise as they have historically. So at the beginning of a contract one might save what seems like a small amount, but toward the end of the 20 years that amount could be much higher. Over the full contract term, the companies say homeowners can save thousands of dollars in total. If a homeowner goes the more traditional route of paying for the solar installation up front, then clearly the savings on electricity bills will be much greater right from the start.

Thanks again for reading.

Posted by Dave Levitan on 18 Aug 2011

Thank you for this article! I knew nothing about solar leasing options, and have been dying to install solar on our 80-year-old So Cal house with full southern exposure. We can't even think about affording it, even with rebates and tax credits, and my husband's work schedule makes DYIing it unrealistic (I have fear of heights and lack his DIY chops). I'm definitely going to look into leasing!

Posted by Tedra Osell on 18 Aug 2011

One current problem is that states are going to instate only for SRECs. ($ for renwable electricity generated.)

My state, Virginia has no renewable portfolio, so I am stuck with $80 SREC, versus $600 per 1000 kwhr in places like NJ or the United Kingdom. (This is 60 cents/ kwhr.)

Almost three years ago, I thought there would be a national renewable portfolio by 2011. Time keeps passing with no national solar power buyback incentives.

Posted by john roberts on 18 Aug 2011

The article states "In September 2009, the ten-year-old got to flip the switch that turned on a
20-panel, five-kilowatt photovoltaic system. His family is now generating about a third of its home’s power needs from the sun, saving about $75 per year on total electricity bills, and producing a third less carbon emissions as a result."

If a 5kW PV system is only producing 1/3 of the electricity, then the family should really look into energy efficiency.

We use 6200kWh a year for our all electric home including heating in Worcester/MA. That is a 4kw PV System. And we still want to replace our electric baseboard heating with a split system heating/aircon. We would then only use 3800kWh a year, the equivalent of a 3kw PV system. And there are even more possibilities to save.

People think using 18000kWh of electricity per year is ok (like this family), but it's not. An average family in Germany is using 3500kWh, an efficient house 2000kWh. No wonder people don't have money to spend on a PV system, because the make such big gifts to the power companies.

If a PV installer isn't telling you this 'secret', then it is not really a good installer, because energy efficiency will save you 3 or more dollars on PV for every dollar spent.

So please, first become energy efficient (do a professional energy audit for around $600), then install PV. No wonder everyone is thinking PV is expensive!

Diego Matter
BPI certified Building Analyst and Envelope

Posted by Diego Matter on 19 Aug 2011

Given the statistics provided in this article it doesn't look like the purchase of solar panels has risen that much. Energy for 15,000 homes seems like a drop in the water. I do know this. I was talking with a cousin recently at a family reunion who works for some sort of solar panel company. Not sure what he does, but he was talking about how their biggest customer base are corporate building structures, and he said that business is booming.

I believe that it's a good thing that major businesses are realizing that they have the capital and means to supply their structures with this kind of power, and in the long run boost their efforts and cut costs. That's very encouraging.

For the resident, I have been reading a lot lately about the concept of building a Tesla coil http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-make-a-tesla-coil.

This seems like a great home project, but one that can pay off if you go about it the right way. It appears that Nikola Tesla's energy coil can be used in a reverse manner to output enough energy to power a home. Very fascinating, and perhaps a cheaper alternative for every day people.

Posted by Tom Bidwell on 19 Aug 2011

Nice article, yes i also think that we have to wait next 50 year to achieve that. But it will help the environmental cause.

But dont you think that we should start it in commercial sector by enforcing them to at least generate 10% of there electricity from Solar panels.

Posted by jefflee on 28 Aug 2011

As long as tax credits are used for solar rebates, low income homeowners are excluded from the system. There is no difference in the amount of rebate whether it is a tax credit or a rebate, but the payoff for those with low federal income tax bills is far too long to make a good incentive for this investment. If the use of federal dollars is based on the value of de-centralized power production, why is it only available in the form of tax reduction? While low income households do invest in capital investments on their home, the present program does not allow them to participate in home solar, which slows the adoption of this valuable form of power supply.

Posted by Aligatorhardt on 29 Aug 2011

Does distributed generation really make sense, or should we be focused on distributed storage instead? With distributed generation, we lose economies of scale at the construction stage and during maintenance. We also create power quality issues for the grid (voltage fluctuations, harmonics, etc.). And what happens when hurricanes pass through? Right now in the Northeast, some people are being told that it could take more than a week to restore power after Hurricane Irene. What if they had to repair or replace solar installations on thousands of rooftops? Isn't the better solution centralized generation and distributed storage? Just as the home heating oil industry discovered that they could store their oil in tanks at every customer's home or place of business, the utilities will someday soon be able to store their renewable energy in electric vehicles, fuel cells, and other storage systems at their customers' homes and businesses. They might even figure out a way for consumers to finance the storage with a small surcharge on each monthly bill. Maintain the economies of scale for renewable energy generation, and eliminate the maintenance costs of distributed generation.

John Howley

Posted by John Howley on 31 Aug 2011

I love this: "The unanswered question is whether solar can thrive without strong state and federal financial incentives."

No. It's not an unanswered question at all. Solar PV is one of the most expensive ways to produce power - intermittent power, at that. Without government handouts, very few of these systems get installed. What's more shameful is that they're incentivized through back-end feed-in tariffs and tax credits, so we're taxing poor people so that rich people can install these. Go ask Spain what happened when the government pulled away some of their handouts for solar PV.

Posted by Kevin Adams on 05 Sep 2011

Excellent and thoughtful article. The question in my mind is, why should we pursue distributed solar on homes instead of centralized, utility-scale solar power plants? Utility-scale solar brings economies of scale in both the construction and operation/maintenance phases. The latter being particularly important. Imagine if after a hurricane or hailstorm, repair crews had to be sent to 1,000 homes instead of to one central solar power plant. There are also very significant power quality issues for the grid with distributed generation, as Germany has learned with both voltage fluctuations and harmonics from thousands of small solar sources. It may be that we would be better off spending our time and money on distributed storage instead of distributed generation. An electric vehicle in every garage (or a fuel cell in every basement) to store electricity during the day for use at night. It is a model that has already worked well for the home heating oil industry. Rather than pay for storage at central locations, they store home heating oil in tanks that are paid for and maintained by each customer.

John Howley

Posted by John Howley on 15 Sep 2011

http://www.turkmagazin.net There are also very significant power quality issues for the grid with distributed generation, as Germany has learned with both voltage fluctuations and harmonics from thousands of small solar sources. It may be that we would be better off spending our time and money on distributed storage instead of distributed generation.

Posted by sohbet odaları on 03 Nov 2011

With regards to the $75 / year savings -- this is not the value of the electricity being produced by the PV system. That value is far higher.

What this means is that, totaling up the remaining utility bill with the lease payment for the PV system, the Shuster family is paying $75 per year less than they were before -- but they probably paid $0 upfront to lease the system. So their decision to go solar is cash-flow positive from day one.

This is why solar leasing has become very popular.

However, be sure to check the fine print, not all solar lease deals are created equal.

Posted by Deconfusion on 18 Nov 2011

Bill Clinton points out in his book, "Back to Work," that the government built the grid, as a market place for energy. Just like they build streets. There are four players on the grid: Homeowners who are harvesting solar energy and feed it into the grid. They are the source of the power and should be paid $2X.

Utility middlemen who collect $250 billion in subsides from tax payers, but "manage" the grid & sell energy to the consumers. (Read "The Energy Imperative", Hermann Scheer, pg 131).

The tax payers who paid to build the grid & pay the salaries of the Utilities.

The consumers who pay $X for energy.

This is how trickle down economics works. The Homeowner should be paid $2X. the rate at which the Utility is selling the energy for, since the homeowners solar system is the source of all the solar power.

This is the design of the German system, which is why the German system is growing nicely and making solar farmers, ie., homeowners happy. Germany knows they may be the first nation to be 100% renewable energy powered by 2050. This is why there will be a solar panel on every roof in Germany before there is in the US.

The US could easily catch up with Germany, if we would just pay homeowners in the U.S. a fair return of $2X.

This is why Germany was able to vote to close all nuclear plants. It is not idealism. The Germans just know how to work and balance the books better.

Paul Kangas

Posted by paul kangas on 23 Jan 2012

The key for the German success in renewable energies is EEG - the law that introduced so-called feed-in tariff, see www.emissions-EUETS.com

Posted by Emissions trading on 27 Mar 2012

When reading about all these solar panels on home roofs, I am reminded of Mao's Great Leap Forward and their backyard iron furnaces.

I am also reminded of all those small chicken farms with a few thousand birds in my youth.

This sort of small scale solar farming can only survive with govt subsidies, that's for sure.

These leases they sign lock them into a fixed rate. What happens if the electric rate falls? I know people who got locked into natural gas prices a year or so before the bottom fell out of the natural gas market.

I can hear all these people yelling a few years from now for govt aid, just like the people yelling today for mortgage relief after they bought too much too high, knowing that home prices could only go up.

What happens if these leasing companies go out of business?

Posted by joel on 12 Aug 2012

Many of the solar leasing companies are extremely profitable at this point and they promise to keep your price below the utilities companies price.

Companies like solarcity and now vivint solar are installing in the neighborhood of 15-20 homes per day. If you assume that the leasing companies alone are installing 40 total per day. (total between all companies) assume about 250 working days per year (they install 6 days per week and on holidays) then 1000 homes are receiving a new solar power source per day. This doesn't include growth from moving into new markets, new start up companies, or general growth in the industry. It isn't outside the realm of possibilities that the leasing industry could be installing 100 systems per day by 2014 or even earlier. This doesn't include municipal installations, commercial properties or homes with traditional PV financing. When all of this is considered then the goal of 10 percent doesn't seem so lofty.

Posted by Chase on 17 Nov 2012

Comments have been closed on this feature.
dave levitanABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Levitan is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia who writes about energy, the environment, and health. His articles have been published by Reuters, SolveClimate, IEEE Spectrum, and Psychology Today. In previous articles for Yale Environment 360, he wrote about the potential of vehicle-to-grid technology and how brownfields are being used for renewable energy projects.



The New Green Grid: Utilities
Deploy ‘Virtual Power Plants’

By linking together networks of energy-efficient buildings, solar installations, and batteries, a growing number of companies in the U.S. and Europe are helping utilities reduce energy demand at peak hours and supply targeted areas with renewably generated electricity.

Floating Solar: A Win-Win for
Drought-Stricken Lakes in U.S.

Floating solar panel arrays are increasingly being deployed in places as diverse as Brazil and Japan. One prime spot for these “floatovoltaic” projects could be the sunbaked U.S. Southwest, where they could produce clean energy and prevent evaporation in major man-made reservoirs.

In Rural India, Solar-Powered
Microgrids Show Mixed Success

As India looks to bring electricity to the quarter of its population still without it, nonprofit groups are increasingly turning to solar microgrids to provide power to the nation’s villages. But the initiatives so far have faced major challenges.

Beyond Sprawl: A New Vision of
The Solar Suburbs of the Future

The concept of the "solar suburb" includes a solar panel on every roof, an electric vehicle in every garage, ultra-efficient home batteries to store excess energy, and the easy transfer of electricity among house, car, and grid. But will the technological pieces fall in place to make this dream a reality?

In Clash of Greens, a Case for
Large-Scale U.S. Solar Projects

Weaning the U.S. economy off fossil fuels will involve the wide deployment of utility-scale solar power. But for that to happen, the environmental community must resolve its conflict between clean energy advocates and those who regard solar farms as blights on the landscape.


MORE IN Reports

As Chinese Luxury Market Grows,
An Upsurge in Tiger Killings in India

by sharon guynup
Poachers killed more tigers in the forests of India in 2016 than any year in the last 15. The spike is linked to demand for tiger parts in China, where the endangered animal’s bones and skins are regarded as exotic luxury items.

New Look at Rivers Reveals
The Toll of Human Activity

by jim robbins
A recent outbreak of a deadly fish parasite on the Yellowstone River may have seemed unremarkable. But a new wave of research shows the episode was likely linked to the cumulative impact of human activities that essentially weakened the Yellowstone’s "immune system."

On Slopes of Kilimanjaro, Shift
In Climate Hits Coffee Harvest

by daniel grossman
Rising temperatures and changing precipitation are taking a toll on coffee farms worldwide, including the plantations around Mount Kilimanjaro. If the world hopes to sustain its two billion cup-a-day habit, scientists say, new climate-resilient species of coffee must be developed.

Aimed at Refugees, Fences Are
Threatening European Wildlife

by jim o'donnell
A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves.

How Tracking Product Sources
May Help Save World’s Forests

by fred pearce
Global businesses are increasingly pledging to obtain key commodities only from sources that do not contribute to deforestation. Now, nonprofit groups are deploying data tools that help hold these companies to their promises by tracing the origins of everything from soy to timber to beef.

How Warming Is Threatening
The Genetic Diversity of Species

by jim robbins
Research on stoneflies in Glacier National Park indicates that global warming is reducing the genetic diversity of some species, compromising their ability to evolve as conditions change. These findings have major implications for how biodiversity will be affected by climate change.

Full Speed Ahead: Shipping
Plans Grow as Arctic Ice Fades

by ed struzik
Russia, China, and other nations are stepping up preparations for the day when large numbers of cargo ships will be traversing a once-icebound Arctic Ocean. But with vessels already plying these waters, experts say the time is now to prepare for the inevitable environmental fallout.

How Forensics Are Boosting
Battle Against Wildlife Trade

by heather millar
From rapid genetic analysis to spectrography, high-tech tools are being used to track down and prosecute perpetrators of the illegal wildlife trade. The new advances in forensics offer promise in stopping the trafficking in endangered species.

African Wetlands Project: A Win
For the Climate and the People?

by winifred bird
In Senegal and other developing countries, multinational companies are investing in programs to restore mangrove forests and other wetlands that sequester carbon. But critics say these initiatives should not focus on global climate goals at the expense of the local people’s livelihoods.

Ghost Forests: How Rising Seas
Are Killing Southern Woodlands

by roger real drouin
A steady increase in sea levels is pushing saltwater into U.S. wetlands, killing trees from Florida as far north as New Jersey. But with sea level projected to rise by as much as six feet this century, the destruction of coastal forests is expected to become a worsening problem worldwide.

e360 digest
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies


Donate to Yale Environment 360
Yale Environment 360 Newsletter



About e360
Submission Guidelines

E360 en Español

Universia partnership
Yale Environment 360 articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia, the online educational network.
Visit the site.


e360 Digest
Video Reports


Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology


Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Middle East
North America

e360 VIDEO

A look at how acidifying oceans could threaten the Dungeness crab, one of the most valuable fisheries on the U.S. West Coast.
Watch the video.


The latest
from Yale
Environment 360
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile.


An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S.
View the photos.

e360 VIDEO

An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging.
Learn more.

e360 VIDEO

Food waste
An e360 video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

Choco rainforest Cacao
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land.
Watch the video.