Track K | Renewable Energy & Sustainable Development
Several megatrends are driving intense recent interest in renewable (and especially solar) electricity:
Equipment costs have fallen by more than 50% since 2009
Installed systems are becoming more efficient (20% gain from 2011 to 2013)
Tax incentives were recently extended
Approximately 20 states are at grid parity for residential solar
Many states have favorable Net Metering policies
Until recently, most solar equipment was installed on-site at customer facilities, meaning panels were installed on available land, roof space, over parking lots, or occupying other available real estate.However, this trend has shifted in recent years as remote (off-site) solar installations were projected to surpass on-site solar installations in 2016.Examples of the latter include community solar gardens and utility-grade solar facilities.
Both of these approaches have merits and drawbacks which will be explored in this presentation.
In addition, the solar market is continuing to evolve, meaning that many of the key drivers listed above are in flux.This has implications for project structure, which will be explored:
Net metering policies are changing in some locations.
Equipment costs are continuing to decline, along with battery/storage costs on the verge of becoming a “game changer.”
Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) prices have declined; and virtual PPAs (vPPAs) have emerged as a major force, allowing participation by more organizations in Green Power/remote solar projects.However, the risks and rewards of vPPAs should be understood, and will be explored. A good starting point is to clearly understand your organization’s goals – whether the focus is on cost reduction, project ROI, carbon reduction, being a good corporate citizen, PR benefits, or other drivers.There may alternatives which can deliver many of the same benefits at less risk, which should also be considered.