5 Things To Be Thankful For In Solar In 2013

Here’s a repost from the Enphase Community boards. Thank you for the brilliant ideas and support. Happy Thanksgiving All!

1. Blowing Past Grid Parity

The almost-mythical, long-awaited and hotly debated grid parity has arrived! We might actually have blown past it already. Large-scale utility solar systems in Latin America, Europe and the US now produce solar electricity a few cents below electric retail prices without relying on any subsidies. Residential rooftop systems in California and in countries like Spain and Germany also compete with ever increasing electric retail rates. Most observers agree: in 2013, solar reached grid parity and it will keep getting cheaper. Let’s all be thankful and get ready for some explosive solar growth in 2014.

2. Beating the Shockley-Queisser Efficiency Limit

Increased cell efficiency is one of the drivers of declining solar costs. In 1941, the first solar cell had a 1% efficiency rate. Nowadays, commercial PV cells have efficiency rates as high as 25%. Several new materials promise to exceed the Shockley-Queisser efficiency limit – the 33.7% theoretical limit first calculated by William Shockley and Hans Queisser at Shockley Semiconductor in 1961. In 2013, MIT researchers proved that new cell materials could double solar efficiency. Cells with 50% efficiency ratings are definitely worth being thankful for.

3. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Speaking of innovations, NREL has been at the forefront of innovative thinking for renewable energy since 1974. It has showed unwavering support for solar, surviving political ups and downs to become a world authority on applied photovoltaic and pure photovoltaic science. As recently as April 2013, R&D Magazine honored NREL with one of its coveted R&D 100 Awards for a new low-cost, high-efficiency cell scheduled to be released in 2014.

4. Expanded Residential Financing Options

Access to solar financing solutions has been boosting residential sales for the past few years. Companies such as Sunnova and Admirals Bank have been providing independent solar installers the means to compete with larger national installers that offer in-house financing. The ability for independent installers to offer competitive residential solar loans and leases levels the playing field and makes solar accessible to more property owners.

5. Community Solar

Community solar allows renters, apartment dwellers or owners whose properties are too shaded for solar panels to purchase solar-generated electricity. A few states have passed legislation that makes shared solar possible. Let’s celebrate these visionary states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington.