ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Solar Market Transformation
Solar in 2017: As non-traditional markets break records, more doors open for utilities; A shift away from third party financing to cash or loan purchases has opened up a new window of opportunity for utilities.
Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 12, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The patterns described in this piece as a “market transformation” continue.
Between July to the end of September 2016, solar installers brought 4,143 MW online, nearly a 200% jump from the same time in 2015. It was solar’s biggest quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association-GTM Research report. The biggest driver was and continues to be utility-scale solar. Driven by state renewable mandates and historically low power purchase agreements (PPA), utilities continue to invest in solar power, providing to 70% of 2016’s new solar. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said solar energy composed 39% of the nation’s new generation capacity in 2016.
Utility capital spend in 2016 reached a record $120 billion and about $42 billion of it went to generation, according to Richard McMahon, vice president of energy supply and finance at utility trade group Edison Electric Institute (EEI). A “significant” part of that investment was in solar, wind, and natural gas, continuing a trend that goes back to 2008. But in the residential solar sector, Q3 2016 installed capacity fell, reflecting a market transformation driven by a loss of momentum by the third party ownership finance model. These numbers open up paths for an agile utility to take advantage of non-traditional markets to grow solar investments, including community solar projects and utility scale solar… click here for more