76% increase in U.S. solar installations in Q1 2015

Solar PanelsSolar power is gradually asserting itself in the United States as shown by growth statistics from the first quarter 2015. Between January and March, installations in the national residential market increased by 76% over the same period a year ago. We’ve also seen an 11% jump since quarter four of 2014.

The biggest increases came in California, with 53% of all installations. Nevada and New York are two other states that are leading the solar charge. In Nevada, there were more solar installations in the first quarter of 2015 than in all quarters of 2014 combined.

For the U.S., overall, this year’s first quarter marked the sixth quarter in a row in which PV installations topped 1 GWdc.

These calculations and increases point to the fact that solar energy is considered by many to be the “elite” energy form available to us today. With advances in solar panel technology, solar power keeps upping the ante with economical and clean energy to light our world.

Why is the country getting crazy about solar energy? Here are some of the benefits.

  • Solar energy isn’t just another “sustainable” energy source – it’s also a source we’ll never run out of as long as the sun still shines. Everything these days is about sustainable and renewable, and solar power is at the forefront.
  • By converting to solar energy, you allow Nature to power your life rather than grids and power lines and complex (read: “easily breakable”) technologies. In other words, solar customers avoid power outages that can take hours – or days – to fix.
  • The panels that bring solar energy into a home or building require little maintenance to keep them running optimally.
  • The generation of power through solar technology is a dead-quiet process, i.e., you’ll hear no humming, buzzing or grinding as your home is energized.
  • Continual improvements in the industry mean more efficient and clean energy production at lowered costs.

Solar Investment Tax Credit

Through the end of 2016, owners of residences and commercial properties can qualify for a 30% tax credit when they convert to solar power under the federal policy known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit. This is a strong incentive that the government hopes will encourage more individuals to seriously look into solar power alternatives.

But even after 2016, converting a home or office to solar energy will still make good sense. It’s by far the cleanest source of natural energy, it’s cost-effective and efficient, and maintaining a solar setup won’t require a bunch of your time or money.

North American Solar Stores is the place to get all your questions answered about solar installations and benefits of this most-natural form of energy. Our member stores are dotted throughout the Northeast and as far south as Arkansas. Use the map on our home page to find the store nearest you.

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Create Wealth: One More Reason to Go Solar

Solar PV SystemLooking to make a solid financial investment? According to the most up-to-date Geostellar Quarterly Index, investing in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for your rooftop is highly profitable and tops many other investment strategies. Couple this information with the fact that the majority of people today who install solar on their homes are primarily doing it for the purpose of saving money, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Investment Comparisons – Solar vs. Cars and Home Improvements

The major investments people usually make are in their home and their car. Cars are assets, but they continually depreciate. Investing in home improvements has not proven to produce a high rate of return; renovating only gives a home’s value a boost some of the time. And neither cars nor homes actually generate income.

Compare cars and homes to the profitability potential of solar, which:

  • Immediately yields dividends,
  • Increases the value of your home, and
  • Produces no-maintenance dividends.

Residents in Massachusetts have apparently come to realize the investment benefits of solar. In a recent survey by a clean-energy company, it was discovered that 7 out of 10 people in the state recognize that solar is the best investment, when the other choices were buying a new car or renovating your home. Their reasons included the long-term value of solar, lower energy costs, and benefits to the environment.

Investment Comparisons – Rooftop Solar vs. S&P 500

In 13 states, installing a rooftop solar system has been found to be among the best investments that can be made, including producing a better return on investment than investing in the S&P 500. The states and their return on investment in solar over a 25-year lifespan of the solar panels include:

  • Hawaii at 24%
  • Colorado at 15%
  • New Mexico at 13%
  • California at 12%

The 2012 states which installed the greatest amount of solar capacity were California, Arizona, and New Jersey; none of these three states made the top 5 states in which return on investment is greatest. Incentives such as tax credits in Connecticut and New York propelled those states to the top 5 of the Geostellar Solar Index.

In calculating rooftop solar profitability, some factors that were considered were:

  • The amount of solar radiation produced throughout a year.
  • Tax credits, renewable energy credits, rebates, and other variables computed on a county-by-county basis.
  • Local utility costs.
  • Costs of installation for a rooftop solar system.

Besides the 13 states which offered a higher return on investment than the S&P-500, about 33 states offered a better ROI for solar than when purchasing a 30-year U.S. Treasury Bond, which yields a 3.7% return.

Solar Energy StoresCEO David Levine, Geostellar Founder, put the news in clear terms: If homeowners install a rooftop solar system, they will generate more wealth than with CDs, stocks, bonds, or other investments. He says that residential solar power has moved beyond being practical to being a wise, solid investment.

In the top states on the Geostellar index, the investment that a homeowner makes in a rooftop solar system would be paid back in full within just four to six years; after that, they would receive energy free of charge worth another five times the amount of the initial investment.

Contact any of our NASS stores for professional installation of solar panels and to ask any questions you may have about the feasibility of solar where you live.

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The U.S. Solar Decathlon – October 3-13, 2013 – Sparks Excitement, Research, and Collaboration

Solar DecathlonIn 2002 the first Solar Decathlon was held on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The initial event, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and held biennially since 2005, took place at a time when the tragedy of 9/11 was still fresh on the minds of Americans, dependence on foreign energy sources was of primary concern, the cost of natural gas was rising steeply, and the state of California had just experienced a season of rolling blackouts. This year the U.S. Solar Decathlon will be held in California, for the first time not in Washington D.C. The locale may be different but the mission, purpose, and spark of inventiveness among college students directed toward advancing solar power usage provided by the event remain constant.

The purpose of the Solar Decathlon is three-fold:

  1. Provide students of varying educational pursuits with beneficial, rare training that serves as preparation to join the renewable energy workforce.
  2. Educate all involved about the how clean-energy products and innovative design solutions provide environmental benefits and opportunities to save money.
  3. Give the public a firsthand experience of the affordability and comfort of homes that combine energy-conscious construction and appliances with solar energy systems.

One of the exciting aspects of the Solar Decathlon is that this experimental program has initiated collaboration among students in numerous fields, such as sciences, engineering, communications, architecture, interior design, landscaping, and more. Their goal in coming together as competing teams is to create a solar-powered home that will be open to the public at the event; the home should be attractive, energy-efficient, solar-powered, and cost-effective. The team which does the best job of creating an affordable, visually appealing home that succeeds at maximum energy efficiency and optimal solar energy production will win the competition.

Huge benefits of the decathlon are that it encourages innovation, drives awareness of available solar technologies, nurtures growth in new markets, and encourages student integration among different fields.

There is no doubt that the U. S. Solar Decathlon has made an impact since its inception. For example:

  • Solar Decathlon 2007There are now Solar Decathlons in Europe and China.
  • With the participation of collegiate teams from across the U.S., the event puts the spotlight on the role of solar energy in changing the landscape of energy sources that are implemented in the states.
  • There have been nearly 17,000 collegiate participants since its inception.
  • The event has earned a worldwide reputation as a workplace development opportunity and successful educational program for students.
  • Through widespread media coverage, the Solar Decathlon has opened the eyes of tens of millions of consumers about the affordability, benefits, and availability of solar power solutions.
  • The event removes doubt that, in both solar deployment and education, the U.S. is truly a global competitor.

The Solar Decathlon will be held in Irvine, California, October 3 through 13 at the Orange County Great Park. Competition houses will be open to the public at no cost for eight days over two weekends. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the solar-powered homes and learn how various solar-powered energy-saving features can help cut energy costs.

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Finally, Installation of Solar Panels at the White House is a Reality

Solar Panels on White House

As of August 2013, solar panels have been installed on the White House

In 2010, President Barack Obama’s then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that a demonstration of a commitment to increasing renewable power would take place in the form of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar hot water being installed on the roof of the White House. Fast forward to now, August of 2013, and it has happened. It took 40 months, but solar panels are now installed on the White House roof. And, incidentally, business owners and homeowners across the U.S. have also installed solar on their rooftops since 2010 to the extent that solar power has quadrupled during Obama’s administration.

Advocates of solar energy, to a large extent, are more frustrated than congratulatory about the new White House solar panels. After all, as many see it, Obama has not provided an example of leadership to Americans by the way the solar project has been delayed. There are also many initiatives he could have implemented as President which would have made much more significant advancements to solar, many argue. And there is no denying that Obama is far more famous for the failure of Solyndra, a bankrupt solar manufacturing company which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee, than he is for an increase in U.S. solar installations.

While they can’t all be attributed to Obama, let’s look at various solar advancements which have taken place during his Presidential term:

  • The capacity for electricity generation with solar technologies is close to four times what it was when President Obama took office.
  • In 2012 alone, solar power capacity in the U.S. was increased by 3.3 gigawatts, which is a stunning amount. New solar power capacity that was added last year was greater than the previous three years combined – and they also marked great solar strides.
  • President George Bush signed an 8 year Investment Tax Credit into law in 2008, but few utilized the tax credit during his tenure due to the global recession that was underway at the time. The Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program (TGP) took the 30% investment tax credit and allowed the credit to be claimed as a grant for renewable energy project developers. In short, developers which did not have tax equity access were able to claim the tax credit at the startup of construction, which benefited the solar industry tremendously. In fact, in solar projects encompassing all 50 states, awards were made to about 44,000 domestic solar projects which leveraged over $7.17 billion in private sector investments as of September 2012.
  • Solar IncentivesIn spite of serious economic downturns in the U.S., the solar industry has grown enormously, due to the TGP, in large part.
  • It is estimated that the TGP has supported approximately 60,000 jobs in recent years.
  • Stimulus funding in the amount of $16 billion went to fund the pre-existing Loan Guarantee Programs of the U.S. Department of Energy. A full 87% of this huge sum of money backed loans mostly to solar and wind power generation projects. Only a small part of the funds funded technology start-ups such as Solyndra.

The story of solar power being installed at the White House has previously been a dismal one. For example, President Carter installed solar panels and President Reagan had them removed. Let’s hope the panels now installed are there to stay and that the current and future administrations will take a stronger lead in advancing a switch to solar power and other renewable energy sources.

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