U.S. Crosses Threshold: One Million Homes Have Solar

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Record for Solar Homes in the United States

Early next year, the U.S. will cross a major threshold: one million homes will run at least partially on solar energy.

According to EnergySage1, which did the calculation, an incredible six million Americans are actively shopping for solar systems right now, and they predict 300,000 of them will decide to install solar this year. These figures are even more impressive when you consider that in 2006, only about 30,000 homes had solar. Thanks to the great drop in the cost of solar over the past few years, homeowners are buying much larger systems, averaging just under eight kilowatts — more than enough to supply all a home’s electricity.

The goal is to make shopping for solar as easy as buying a car, says EnergySage2, which runs a web based solar PV comparison and one-stop shopping platform. It allows residential and commercial property owners to solicit multiple price quotes from an extensive list of pre-screened, high-quality solar PV installers. A $500,000 grant from the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative supported the project3. SunShot provides grants for projects that can help meet the goal of cutting solar costs 75% by 2021, making it fully cost-competitive with fossil fuels without subsidies.

U.S. Top Destination for Solar Manufacturers

All this activity (plus large-scale solar) has resulted in expansion of the U.S. solar manufacturing base. The U.S. ranks fifth in the world for attracting solar manufacturers, according to GTM Research’s Global PV Manufacturing Attractiveness Index 2015 report4. Over the past seven years, the world has come full cycle — from an oversupply of solar panels that crushed the industry to once again not having enough supply to meet demand.

Two notable solar manufacturing facilities will be in NY State — one built by SolarCity, a component of the Nasdaq Green Economy Index — and another by privately-owned 1366 Technologies.

SolarCity will soon begin manufacturing the most powerful solar PV panel in the world, rated at 22% conversion efficiency by the Renewable Energy Test Center. As the leading solar installation company in the U.S., SolarCity entered manufacturing to be able to offer solar leases at lower electricity rates, says the company. SolarCity's 1.2 million square-foot Gigawatt factory, under construction in Buffalo, New York, opens early next year. At full production it will pump out 9,000-10,000 modules a day, creating 5,000 jobs and supporting the $1 billion-worth of solar systems the company says it plans to install over the next two years.

1366 Technologies, which makes solar wafers (the building block of solar cells), will be an anchor tenant at NY State’s state-of-the-art tech park, Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP), located between Buffalo and Rochester. When it comes online in 2017, the factory will start at 250 megawatts of production, with plans to scale to an incredible three gigawatts, churning out 600 million silicon wafers a year. The factory is expected to create 1,000 jobs, says 1366 Technologies.

1366 says it has created a lean manufacturing process where solar wafers are made at half today’s cost. It does so by dramatically cutting the time and energy it takes to make a wafer from three days to just 25 seconds. It combines four separate manufacturing steps into a single, low cost continuous process. The process also cuts energy consumption by 90%, requires half the silicon and eliminates silicon waste.

1366 is also a beneficiary of the Department of Energy's SunShot program, receiving a $150 million loan guarantee to help finance its first factory in western Massachusetts.

174,000 people are now employed by the U.S. solar industry, with employment growing 21.8%, from 2013, another strong year. When you add in the indirect jobs it stimulates, the industry contributes to 700,000 jobs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

To learn more about the Nasdaq Green Economy Index or any of our 40,000+ indexes, click here and one of our Nasdaq Global Indexes representatives will contact you directly.


Rona Fried

Rona Fried, Ph.D. is CEO of SustainableBusiness.com, providing daily green business news and a national green jobs service since 1996. She is a consultant for the NASDAQ OMX Green Economy Index.

Nasdaq® is a registered trademark of Nasdaq, Inc. The information contained above is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and nothing contained herein should be construed asinvestment advice either on behalf of a particular security or an overall investment strategy. Neither Nasdaq, Inc. nor any of its affiliates makes any recommendation to buy or sell any security or any representation about the financial condition of any company. Statements regarding Nasdaq-listed companies or Nasdaq proprietary indexes are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investors should undertake their own due diligence and carefully evaluate companies before investing. ADVICE FROM A SECURITIES PROFESSIONAL IS STRONGLY ADVISED.

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