In 2014, the U.S. solar industry and residential solar market both experienced a record-breaking year, with the industry itself growing by 34 percent over 2013—installing nearly 7000 MW of solar electric capacity (SEIA). The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which publishes yearly reviews of the industry, found that over 6200 MW of solar PV capacity was installed, growing by 51 percent in the residential sector. The average solar PV price has fallen from under $8/watt in 2005 to under $3 in 2014. Even further, residential costs have fallen by 45 percent since 2010 and the residential sector crossed the 1 GW barrier for the first time. According to a U.S. Solar Market Insight report, solar PV system installation prices also dropped 9 to 12 percent in 2014, displaying the largest decline across any of the market segments (Greentech Media). In the years since the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was implemented in 2006, solar installation costs have been reduced by more than 73 percent. As industry scales, prices will continue to fall (SEIA).
Historically speaking, between 1977 and 2014, the average cost of solar panels have dropped from $76.67/watt to $0.613/watt – about 100 times lower (Cleantechnica). Steadily falling in the last 30 years, a silicon shortage caused a rise in the cost of solar between 2006-2008, but prices dramatically fell short after. As the solar industry grows, the U.S. economy is benefited through job creation and new investments. There was a 20 percent increase in solar employees over 2013, with nearly 174,000 workers in the United States. Additionally, the value of solar projects continues to increase. In 2006, yearly solar installations were valued as fewer than 1 bill...
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..., stated that, in the following years after the expiration of ITC, there will be a hiccup in the market that will require readjustment.
Many organizations are asking the solar industry to unite and call for Congress to temporarily extend the ITC, in order to allow the market to reach full maturity and scale. The authors of Softer Solar Landings: Options to Avoid the Investment Tax Credit Cliff recommend the current ITC level be extended for two years and then gradually be phased out after 2018 (SEIA). The gradual step down will allow the industry to adjust over time and to continue its remarkable growth in the adoption of solar. Despite proposals for gradual reductions of the ITC, the CEO of Standard Solar, Tony Clifford, believes the industry will be halted for about six to nine months (Renewable Energy World). Nevertheless, the adjustment to come will be rocky.
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