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Solar Index -14% Through June: California Decline Offset by Solar Growth Markets

OhmHome released its June Solar Index, which covers residential and small commercial solar markets, included the following highlights:
  • The US. Solar Index declined 10% in June and 14% in the year to date period compared to 2016. 
  • The decline in California is slowing and growth in new markets (FL, SC, PA, UT, TX, etc.) has partially offset declines in mature markets (CA, NM, MA, etc.)

OhmHome’s analysis of the market performance through June indicates that 2017 may end up lower than industry analysts forecasts of -2.4%. Although the market is expected to decline in 2017, analysts predict a rebound in 2018 by 20% as mature markets “re-tool” and growth states attract early adopters.

The decline in select mature markets is likely due to the exhaustion of rebates in certain states as well a pull-back in acquisition spend by national installers. At the same time, solar companies are expanding into growth markets including Florida, South Carolina, and Nevada (after net metering decision reversal).

  • In June, Sunrun announced that the company had expanded into seven more states (New Mexico, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Nevada and Florida), which nearly doubled the company’s total addressable market to 28 million.
  • In July, Vivint announced that the company was launching in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, after having expanded into New Hampshire, Florida, Rhode Island, Colorado, Nevada, Vermont, and Virginia in 2017.

Mature markets may receive a boost from battery storage, as California recently announced an expansion of residential solar incentives. Increased EV adoption could also convert PV adopters in mature markets.

California Index

  • The California Solar Index, which represents approximately 40% of the market declined 30% in June and 34% in the year to date period compared to 2016.
  • Year to date growth by city in California (links to data): San Diego (-39%), San Jose (-30%), Sacramento (0.3%),Riverside(-16%), and Los Angeles (-30%).

About OhmHome’s Solar Index
 
OhmHome’s Solar Index is a unique real-time view into the U.S. solar market and is frequently cited by leading renewable energy publications including Greentech MediaRenewable Energy World, and PV Magazine.
 
The Solar Index analyzes solar permit data on a monthly basis for geographies in which the data is readily available. The Solar Index currently covers most major solar markets spanning 17 states and over 40 cities. The states included in the Solar Index represent more than 85% of the total market.
 
Links to Select City Data:

Content Discussion

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on July 29, 2017

Casey, leave it to a solar advocate to find optimism in the nation’s most solar-friendly state, California, peaking after generating 10% of its electricity from the sun (2016). Can we expect 4% from South Carolina, or even 1% from Connecticut?

Solar would be a joke if promoters weren’t getting rich by leading honest, hardworking people to believe they’re making a contribution in the fight against climate change. That’s called fraud, and it’s a crime.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on July 31, 2017

You said:

find optimism in the nation’s most solar-friendly state, California, peaking after generating 10% of its electricity from the sun (2016

).

Can you explain the “peaking” a little more Bob?

Wonder if you understand that this is a report talking about a slowdown in rooftop installations in CA. Still additional rooftops with solar vs previous year just not as much growth.

Also, where did you get your 10%? EIA report which includes rooftop solar shows 27,432 GWh of solar in 2016 which is equal to 13.2% of total gen.
What’s your source?

If you assume that solar “peaked” in 2016 – how do you explain the 30.1% Y-Y growth rate as shown by EIAs latest monthly report.

As for your other comment –

Can we expect 4% from South Carolina, or even 1% from Connecticut?

Of course we can. North Carolina is already above 4% solar share and will be moving to 10% over the next decade.

Your solar data is a fraud.

By the way Bob – here is the latest CO2 data from CAISO. CA CO2 emissions dropping like a rock.

Sean OM's picture
Sean OM on August 1, 2017

Solar would be a joke if promoters weren’t getting rich by leading honest, hardworking people to believe they’re making a contribution in the fight against climate change. That’s called fraud, and it’s a crime.

The program is doing what it is designed to do which is improve solar technology and lower the cost of it for everyone moving forward. I’m not sure where the fraud is. And as far as WHO is getting rich, the money is spread out considerably more then with the FF industry.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on August 1, 2017

For you, Mark Jacobson, and others who believed renewables would grow exponentially to 100% and beyond, solar growth has peaked. My solar data comes from the California Energy Commission, which shows the most comprehensive breakdown available to the public. It shows California commercial solar at 9.98%, which I (forgiveably) rounded up.

What about solar panels installed on people’s roofs? CEC estimates they’re producing 2.4% of California electricity when we need it and when we don’t need it at all. Hallelujah. They’re not worth the money spent on them, a dawning realization for both their owners and the taxpayers wasting their own money. Hence, the slowdown in solar growth and the bankruptcy of SolarCity. That they won’t be replaced in 20 years is obvious – they’re useless from an environmental perspective.

You quote the “latest CO2 data” from CAISO, failing to acknowledge the 10% of electricity which comes from “unspecified sources” – CAISO’s wiggle room bought to pad the failure of California renewable energy policy.

You see, I have direct experience with the CA renewables community. My utility (Burbank Water & Power) loves to tout its renewable creds, claiming only 9% of our electricity comes from coal. But a quick glance at our city’s 2016 Financial Report shows a full third of our electricity comes from Intermountain in Utah. City councilmembers were aghast when I informed them of this fact, but the issue seems to have been swallowed down the memory hole.

Falling like a rock? California is sweeping carbon emissions under the rug by outsourcing them. The only thing falling like a rock are the birds at Ivanpah, one every five seconds, when California’s glorious achievement is actually generating electricity. And Mark Jacobson has been reduced to threatening to sue the scientists who decimated his argument for 100% renewables (for what is not clear). Fortunately, the public is recognizing his fantasy is crumbling like a house of cards. The sooner, the better.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on August 1, 2017

Sean, that’s an interesting take – it was my impression the program was designed to fight climate change. Representing it as a significant step in that direction is, by any estimation, a fraud.

That many people are in on it doesn’t make it any more justifiable.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on August 1, 2017

Bob,
Good to see that you actually have a source.

However, interesting that you use CEC for your data but you don’t use the Solar number that includes imports – which is actually lower at an 8.1% share.

Here is the trend data from CEC show data over the last four years.

Solar-
2013 – 1.8%
2014 – 4.2%
2015 – 6.0%
2016 – 8.1%

Where’s the peak for solar Bob? Seems to be going up by about 2% per year to me. YTD(2017) numbers for solar are up 30%.

So yes Bob, CO2 in CA as shown in my link is falling like a rock. Nat Gas numbers in next CEC chart will be down to 32%.

California is sweeping carbon emissions under the rug by outsourcing them.

Imports have remained constant over the four years. This can easily be seen CEC chart. Coal imports continue to drop and will be gone entirely by 2025.(including Burbank’s)

Most(63%) of the 2016 unspecified imports come from the NW and would actually add to the Hydro share. Below is explanation of unspecified imports from the CEC link.

Generally, the unspecified energy category would be comprised of short-term market purchases from those power plants that do not have a contract with a California utility. Much of the Pacific Northwest spot market purchases are served by surplus hydro and newer gas-fired power plants. The Southwest spot market purchases would be comprised of new combined cycle energy and some coal-based energy.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on August 1, 2017

It’s good to see that some PV early adopting states are starting to slow their over-zealous embrace of over-priced residential PV systems.

The residential solar industry likes to sell itself as synonymous with going solar, but industry data from GTM Research/SEIA shows that for 5 years running, utility solar has been the largest sector for US solar energy deployments.

Even more importantly, data shows that residential solar has remained stubbornly over double the cost of utility scale solar PV; the most recent industry report has residential at 2.9 times the cost utility scale, and the gap is increasing!

Advocates will tell use that moving the PV system to the downstream side of the electric meter magically makes it economical. Of course such a small change does nothing to eliminate the extra cost, it just shifts the cost to other people.

As an environmentalist, I’m completely in favor of roof-top solar, for those who wish to pay for it (including the external grid costs). But net-metering rate plans which shift the cost to others are wasteful economic policy and unethical social policy.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on August 2, 2017

“Nat Gas numbers in next CEC chart will be down to 32%….”

“Coal imports continue to drop and will be gone entirely by 2025…”

Joe, not so good to see you relying on a Magic 8-Ball, Ouija Board, or other mystical source for your unsubstantiated predictions, as other renewables prognosticators have in the past. Yours seems to take seven months of good sunshine and hydro and assume they’re representative of renewables generation going forward. Hopefully, you can get your money back.

History is a superior guide, and unfortunately it’s shown renewables to be useless for making significant advances in reducing carbon emissions. Fortunately, with the upending of Mark Jacobson’s 100%-renewables fantasy, fact- and history-based opinions are reappearing in the halls of California government – making the price of a wasted deck of Tarot cards a small one to pay.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on August 3, 2017

Bob,

As per usual – no disputing from you of the trends I show and the data that back them up. You just fall back to your “Ouija Board” comments.

My coal import comment is based on CA law. The coal imports could be gone much sooner than 2025 but there is a trade-off between speed and getting the lowest possible zero carbon replacements.

As for my comment on next(2017) CEC chart. Here is the CAISO YTD data – thru July for the last 4 years. Let’s see if you can remember any of your grade school math and make an estimate for what 2017 CEC chart will show for NG share.

Here is a chart showing last 4 years of CEC yearly data . Might help you do your homework.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on August 4, 2017

Nathan,

Interesting to see the trends on this-

2017 Q1
Residential solar – $2.84/W
Utility scale solar – about $1/W

2012 Q1. o.
Residential solar – $5,81/W
Utility scale solar – about $2.90/W

Hmmm – utility scale solar cost more than residential does today.