Overview

The installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants in communities and the adoption of PV systems by small businesses have seen significant growth during the past decade. This is largely because prices have decreased dramatically and PV technologies have become more efficient. As a result, solar has become one of the fastest-growing energy technologies in the U.S. and government assistance through mechanisms such as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) further reduce the cost of installing residential solar PV.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), residential solar installations have increased more than thirty-eight-fold since 2007. In previous years, particular states such as California were responsible for a majority of the residential solar market. In 2017, states that have not typically been recognized for their solar potential installed 18% of the country's total solar installations. This is a good indicator that residential solar PV is becoming more economically viable, even in states with a less generous solar resource.

During the past 5 years, solar installation prices have dropped by 55%. This has paved the way for tremendous growth in the residential solar market. Residential solar has seen an annual growth of more than 50% in recent years, and while 2017 saw a decline in residential solar installations compared to 2016 overall, solar deployment increased in non-major solar states by 18%. The market is expected to continue its growth trend in the years to come but at a slower rate than during the past decade.

Our Involvement

The Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy (CASE) has been active in Virginia by partnering with the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to advance our understanding of how and where solar PV projects can be installed on public lands and facilities. Our office also engages in modeling and analysis, conducts outreach events, and provides other means of support for the local and regional solar markets.

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