Solar Builder

JUL-AUG 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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IN THE SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 9 Forecasts improve (duh) Overall U.S. residential solar growth stalled out recently, largely because California's growth stalled. That should now be a thing of the past. GTM Research increased its base-case residential forecasts by 14 percent from 2020-2023 — an upside of nearly 650 MW. Solar is installed on roughly 150,000 homes in California each year, but new homes only make up about 15,000 of that number. Meanwhile, California on average builds 75,000 to 80,000 new homes a year. GTM is thinking new-build solar will account for 23 percent of new installations in 2020 — or 222 MW — with new- build residential homes accounting for 18 to 23 percent of total solar build-out from 2020-2023. What about California home prices? The CEC says, on average, the 2019 standards will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years. Based on a 30-year mortgage, the Energy Commission estimates that the stan - dards will add about $40 per month for the average home, but save consumers $80 per month on heating, cooling and lighting bills. By its estimates, the CEC believes homeowners would be saving overall by an average of almost $500 a year because of the new mandate. Goodbye soft costs Soft costs such as permitting, marketing and customer acquisition make up a half to two-thirds of a solar installation costs. Many of those will be removed or reduced dramatically in this equation, which make a huge impact on the economics of residential solar, bringing the total down to something like $1.12 per watt. So that's the good news, but who shares in all of this upward momentum is an open question. How much will homebuilders take on themselves? Will most solar companies focus on the new build market, and what will those margins be? What becomes of the retrofit business model? These questions aren't meant to imply bad news for anyone (maybe every single stakeholder wins!), but a dramatic change is coming somewhere in the status quo. Rise of BIPV What if homebuilders gravitate right to BIPV products? According to Freedonia Group analyst Matt Zielenski, demand for solar roofing prod - ucts, such as those made by Tesla, SunTegra, GAF Materials and CertainTeed, will see strong growth going forward as builders and contrac - tors in California install these products on newly built homes. "Solar roofing products have several advan - tages over traditional roof-mount solar panels," said Zielenski. "One of these advantages is that they are more attractive than solar panels. Most solar roofing prod - ucts look like traditional roofing, such as asphalt shingles or roofing tiles. Their ability to blend in with the rest of the structure can add to the curb appeal and value of a home." As a result, U.S. demand for solar roofing is projected to reach $2.2 billion in 2022 and continue to grow strongly through 2037. What about the duck curve? In a FAQ document, the CEC explains lessons learned since the 2008 changes to the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards and net energy metering rules that exploded solar installs to the point that too much solar energy was being dumped on the grid, creating the infamous duck curve problem. "Because the grid is cleaner and residential rooftop solar cus - tomer compensation for overgeneration is very limited, it is critical that rooftop solar generation does not substantially exceed the home's electricity use," the FAQ document states. "It is ideal to generate the electricity and have it used onsite versus exporting it to the grid at a time it may not be needed." The answer for the CEC is storage, and it has baked storage incentives into the new standards. Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, said "You should really think of this mandate as solar on the roof, battery in the garage." For instance, the solar system size is allowed to be reduced when it is paired with a storage component. Also, battery storage can be used as a credit against "energy design rating requirements" that are used to evaluate a building's overall compliance with the codes. And we're not talking battery backup systems here. To meet the standard, the installed storage system must maximize solar self-consumption, Courtesy of GTM Research.

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