Solar Builder

JAN 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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12 JA N UA RY / F E B RUA RY 2 0 1 8 A snapshot of the key industry storylines for local installers heading into 2018 By Chris Crowell You are here A s I type this, we still don't know what Trump will decide as the remedy to the injury verdict found in the Section 201 Trade case brought by Suniva and SolarWorld. So, any predictions feel even more futile than usual. Instead, let's ground ourselves in the stats of the here and now to at least understand this moment in time before plunging into whatever this next era of solar will look like. Residential market declines The Q3 2017 U.S. Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and SEIA noted a 10 percent decrease in the residen- tial PV sector quarter-over-quarter. The report attributes the slowdown to two key factors: persistent nationwide customer acquisition challenges and a pivot by major solar installers that are pursuing profitable sales channels over growth. You can see this most in mature markets like California and the Northeast that account for the majority of installation volumes. "The year 2017 has been unconventional for solar in the sense that utility and resi- dential PV, which have historically been the market's major growth segments, are actu- ally expected to decline in 2017," said GTM Research Solar Analyst Austin Perea. "For utility PV this is largely a function of com- paring the record-breaking ITC demand- pull in effect of 2016 to more modest build- out in 2017, while significant customer acquisition issues remain a challenge for residential solar. Conversely, non-residential solar, the smallest and most historically beleaguered sector, is expected to grow in 2017 in large part due to robust community solar build-out and regulatory demand pull- in across major state markets." Several markets, however, experienced record quarters for the residential solar seg- ment. These include New Mexico, Washington D.C., Virginia and Idaho. Meanwhile, emerging markets, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, are expected to surpass 50 MW of residential capacity for the first time ever this year. National installer power shift As alluded to in the previous section, national residential solar installers continue to lose their stronghold on market share, which feeds into a narrative of the volatility of solar energy, when it is really one of volatile business strategy. NRG Home Solar, Sungevity and Direct Energy Solar went bankrupt or left the sector. SolarCity, on the other hand, which was starting to lose steam with its leasing model, started focusing more on profitability than capacity expansion and shifted to selling loans. NEWS IN THE

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