Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced plans to implement a tariff on solar panels imported from outside the U.S. The decision was in response to a complaint filed by two solar panel providers, but the vast majority of the solar industry opposed the action. In recent months, Arizona residents have also watched as multiple utilities rolled out new rate programs that, at least on the surface, could easily be interpreted as moves to slow customers from making their own electricity out of Arizona’s most abundant natural resource.
While the implications of the tariff are still shaking out (more on that in the coming weeks), it’s worth remembering just how far the solar industry has come. While we are certain to face more challenges and roadblocks from embedded and antiquated industries that fear a renewable future, there’s little doubt that momentum is at our back and the solar industry is healthier and more competitive than ever before.
So, to ease your troubled mind, please consider these four facts about the state of the solar industry today:
1. Solar is already on-par or cheaper than fossil fuels and has been for several years: It happened in 2016, actually. According to the World Economic Forum, solar and wind is now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries. As prices for clean, renewable “sun power” continue to fall, conservative estimates suggest that as much as two-thirds of all nations will reach the point known as “grid parity” within the next few years, even without subsidies.
2. Solar is an economic power house and growing fast: The U.S. solar industry generated $154 billion in economic activity in 2016. That number includes sales, wages, salaries, benefits, taxes, and fees. While impressive, it’s also important to consider percentage growth over time. Revenue has been an equally impressive trajectory, growing from $42 million in 2007 to $210 million in 2017.
3. Solar employs more than twice as many people as coal: The solar industry employs approximately 370,000 people in the United State alone. For comparison, coal (the “clean” as well as the traditional dirty type) only support about 160,000 jobs. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics currently cites solar PV installer as the fastest-growing jobin the nation. Electric power generation from wind and solar combined contributes about three times as many jobs as electricity production from fossil fuels.
4. Solar tax credits are still in place through 2019, then they start to drop: Back in 2015, in a rare display of bipartisan compromise, Congress voted to extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at the 30 percent rate through 2019. In 2020, the ITC incentive drops to 26 percent, then 22 percent in 2021 before it ends permanently for homeowners in 2022. The state of Arizona also offers a flat $1,000 tax credit as well.
We will be sharing more information about the impact of the Trump administration’s new solar tariff in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, tariff-free panel prices are guaranteed until Feb 7, 2018, when the new tariffs are set to take effect, so now is the time to act! If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to solar, we invite you to download our complimentary whitepaper: Is Solar Right for You? You can also contact one of our solar experts for a custom solar quote.