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Florida added more than 40,000 rooftop solar systems in 2021. Rooftop solar energy system

Florida added more than 40,000 rooftop solar systems in 2021. Rooftop solar energy system

    Florida added more than 40,000 rooftop solar systems in 2021

    The state achieved 41% year-over-year growth in added capacity, and surpassed 1 GW of cumulative installed rooftop solar.

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    The Florida Public Service Commission has released its 2021 Net Metering Report, which outlines all of the new, net-metered renewable energy systems that were interconnected in 2021. The report covers all types of customer-sited renewable energy, but the vast majority of interconnected systems are rooftop solar systems, and the data contained is almost entirely rooftop solar data.

    In 2021, Florida interconnected 40,395 new residential solar systems totaling nearly 342 MW of added capacity. The additions bring the state to 130,947 total residential solar systems representing just under 1.2 GW of overall residential solar capacity. At the end of 2020, the state registered 90,552 systems with a total capacity of 835 MW, so the additions in 2021 represent a growth of just under 45% in new systems and roughly 41% in added capacity.

    In pulling some additional data, Scott Thomasson, a Tallahassee-based clean energy attorney and policy strategist shared that 1.25% of Floridian investor-owned utility customers now have solar energy systems installed. Florida’s investor-owned utilities include Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power and Light (FPL), Gulf Power (owned by FPL), and Tampa Electric company.

    The growth of Florida’s rooftop solar market in 2021 alone was significant, and this progress is set to continue into 2022 and beyond, especially since Gov. Ron DeSantis’ April veto of House Bill 741. HB 741 would have phased down the value of net metering and opened the door for utilities to add fixed charges to solar customer bills.

    Had the bill been signed by Gov. DeSantis, starting in 2023, payments to solar customers would have regress from a retail rate to the “avoided cost” to the utility, a minute fraction of the retail rate. The phase out was set to slash payment rates to solar customers by 50% in four years and would drop further still to the avoided cost rate by 2029. The bill would have also allowed for fixed charges to grid connected solar customers starting in 2026, with no limit on the fixed charges outlined in the bill text.

    The veto of the bill was described by the Solar Energy Industries Association as a “major win for energy freedom and Florida’s clean energy economy.”

    florida, added, rooftop, solar, systems

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    Tim Sylvia

    Tim Sylvia was an editor at pv magazine USA. Tim covered project development, legal issues and renewable energy legislation, as well as contributed to the daily Morning Brief.

    Rooftop solar: How homeowners should do the math on the climate change investment

    Solar panels create electricity on the roof of a house in Rockport, Massachusetts, U.S., June 6, 2022. Picture taken with a drone.

    When Josh Hurwitz decided to put solar power on his Connecticut house, he had three big reasons: To cut his carbon footprint, to eventually store electricity in a solar-powered battery in case of blackouts, and – crucially – to save money.

    Now he’s on track to pay for his system in six years, then save tens of thousands of dollars in the 15 years after that, while giving himself a hedge against utility-rate inflation. It’s working so well, he’s preparing to add a Tesla-made battery to let him store the power he makes. Central to the deal: Tax credits and other benefits from both the state of Connecticut and from Washington, D.C., he says.

    florida, added, rooftop, solar, systems

    You have to make the money work,” Hurwitz said. You can have the best of intentions, but if the numbers don’t work it doesn’t make sense to do it.

    Hurwitz’s experience points up one benefit of the Inflation Reduction Act that passed in August: Its extension and expansion of tax credits to promote the spread of home-based solar power systems. Adoption is expected to grow 26 percent faster because of the law, which extends tax credits that had been set to expire by 2024 through 2035, says a report by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    Those credits will cover 30 percent of the cost of the system – and, for the first time, there’s a 30 percent credit for batteries that can store newly-produced power for use when it’s needed.

    The main thing the law does is give the industry, and consumers, assurance that the tax credits will be there today, tomorrow and for the next 10 years, said Warren Leon, executive director of the Clean Energy States Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of state government energy agencies. Rooftop solar is still expensive enough to require some subsidies.”

    California’s solar energy net metering decision

    Certainty has been the thing that’s hard to come by in solar, where frequent policy changes make the market a solar coaster, as one industry executive put it. Just as the expanded federal tax credits were taking effect, California on Dec. 15 slashed another big incentive allowing homeowners to sell excess solar energy generated by their systems back to the grid at attractive rates, scrambling the math anew in the largest U.S. state and its biggest solar-power market — though the changes do not take effect until next April.

    Put the state and federal changes together, and Wood Mackenzie thinks the California solar market will actually shrink sharply in 2024, down by as much as 39%. Before the Inflation Reduction Act incentives were factored in, the consulting firm forecast a 50% drop with the California policy shift. Residential solar is coming off a historic quarter, with 1.57 GW installed, a 43% increase year over year, and California a little over one-third of the total, according to Wood Mackenzie.

    For potential switchers, tax credits can quickly recover part of the up-front cost of going green. Hurwitz took the federal tax credit for his system when he installed it in 2020, and is preparing to add a battery now that it, too, comes with tax credits. Some contractors offer deals where they absorb the upfront cost – and claim the credit – in exchange for agreements to lease back the system.

    Combined with savings on power homeowners don’t buy from utilities, the tax credits can make rooftop solar systems pay for themselves within as little as five years – and save 25,000 or more, after recovering the initial investment, within two decades.

    Will this growth have legs? Absolutely, said Veronica Zhang, portfolio manager of the Van Eck Environmental Sustainability Fund, a green fund not exclusively focused on solar. With utility rates going up, it’s a good time to move if you were thinking about it in the first place.

    How to calculate installation costs and benefits

    Here is how the numbers work.

    Nationally, the cost for solar in 2022 ranges from 16,870 to 23,170, after the tax credit, for a 10-kilowatt system, the size for which quotes are sought most often on EnergySage, a Boston-based quote-comparison site for solar panels and batteries. Most households can use a system of six or seven kilowatts, EnergySage spokesman Nick Liberati said. A 10-12 kilowatt battery costs about 13,000 more, he added.

    There’s a significant variation in those numbers by region, and by the size and other factors specific to the house, EnergySage CEO Vikram Aggarwal said. In New Jersey, for example, a 7-kilowatt system costs on average 20,510 before the credit and 15,177 after it. In Houston, it’s about 1,000 less. In Chicago, that system is close to 2,000 more than in New Jersey. A more robust 10-kilowatt system costs more than 31,000 before the credit around Chicago, but 26,500 in Tampa, Fla. All of these average are as quoted by EnergySage.

    The effectiveness of the system may also vary because of things specific to the house, including the placement of trees on or near the property, as we found out when we asked EnergySage’s online bid-solicitation system to look at specific homes.

    The bids for one suburban Chicago house ranged as low as 19,096 after the federal credit and as high as 30,676.

    Offsetting those costs are electricity savings and state tax breaks that recover the cost of the system in as little as 4.5 years, according to the bids. Contractors claimed that power savings and state incentives could save as much as another 27,625 over 20 years, on top of the capital cost.

    Alternatively, consumers can finance the system but still own it themselves – we were quoted interest rates of 2.99 to 8.99 percent. That eliminates consumers’ up-front cost, but cuts into the savings as some of the avoided utility costs go to pay off interest, Aggarwal said.

    The key to maximizing savings is to know the specific regulations in your state – and get help understanding often-complex contracts, said Hurwitz, who is a physician.

    Energy storage and excess power

    Some states have more generous subsidies than others, and more pro-consumer rules mandating that utilities pay higher for excess power that home solar systems create during peak production hours, or even extract from homeowners’ batteries.

    California had among the most generous rules of all until this week. But state utility regulators agreed to let utilities pay much less for excess power they are required to buy, after power companies argued that the rates were too high, and raised power for other customers.

    Wood Mackenzie said the details of California’s decision made it look less onerous than the firm had expected. EnergySage says the payback period for California systems without a battery will be 10 years instead of six after the new rules take effect in April. Savings in the years afterward will be about 60 percent less, the company estimates. Systems with a battery, which pay for themselves after 10 years, will be little affected because their owners keep most of their excess power instead of selling it to the utility, according to EnergySage.

    The new [California rules] certainly elongate current payback periods for solar and solar-plus-storage, but not by as much as the previous proposal, Wood Mackenzie said in the Dec. 16 report. By 2024, the real impacts of the IRA will begin to come to fruition.

    The more expensive power is from a local utility, the more sense home solar will make. And some contractors will back claims about power savings with agreements to pay part of your utility bill if the systems don’t produce as much energy as promised.

    You have to do your homework before you sign, Hurwitz said. But energy costs always go up. That’s another hidden incentive.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    Rooftop Solar Power System

    “We are proud to highlight Shenandoah University’s belief in and dedication to environmental stewardship. With this installation, Shenandoah demonstrates not only the power of solar energy, but also the power of people working together to create a better tomorrow.”

    President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.

    Through a partnership with the solar power company Secure Futures, of Staunton, Virginia, a total of 1,337 solar panels are spread across three buildings:

    Athletics Events Center

    982 panels at 20,106 square feet

    Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre

    229 panels at 4,689 square feet

    Alson H. Smith, Jr. Library

    126 panels at 2,580 square feet

    florida, added, rooftop, solar, systems

    Shenandoah’s solar panels have the capacity to produce around 500 kilowatts of electricity. Annual output of electricity will be approximately 675,000 kilowatt hours.

    Each year, the solar power generated at Shenandoah will be equivalent to the amount of carbon in:

    • 258 tons of coal burned
    • the electricity use of 82 homes
    • the consumption of more than 53,000 gallons of gasoline

    Through the use of this solar project, the university is projected to save a total of 3.1 million in avoided costs for electricity from producing its own solar power over the 35-year lifespan of the equipment. Net savings to the university on electricity (after all costs are taken out) are projected to total more than 1.5 million over the same period.

    The project is funded through Virginia’s first solar crowdfunding campaign

    funded in part through Secure Futures.

    florida, added, rooftop, solar, systems

    “On-campus solar energy at Shenandoah University is being funded in part through Virginia’s first solar crowdfunding campaign. Through this innovative program, members of the community are able to invest in the development of solar projects at five different non-profit institutions around Virginia, starting with Shenandoah University.”

    Tony Smith | CEO of Secure Futures

    About Secure Futures, LLC

    As a market and policy leader, Secure Futures builds, owns, manages and funds affordable resilient solar solutions for schools, colleges, hospitals and businesses. Headquartered in Staunton, Virginia, the company combines state-of–the-art solar technology with an innovative business model to make commercial-scale solar power readily affordable in Virginia, helping customers to realize the economic, environmental and community benefits of solar energy. In 2017, Secure Futures became a Certified B Corporation, having met the exacting standards for social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability established by the nonprofit B Lab. For more information, visit www.securefutures.solar.

    Solar Rooftop: How Does a Solar Panel Work?

    Fossil fuels are quickly being seen as a non-sustainable means of energy with global fluctuations in price and volume, causing the world to turn towards alternative solutions. The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy, which can be harnessed into clean solar energy. The developments in solar technology have made turning solar energy into electricity much more convenient and efficient. As it is independent of traditional and conventional power generation systems, it can help you save on costs as well as protect the environment.

    It is also a myth that extracting the full potential of this energy requires large solar farms. With today’s advanced solar rooftop systems, even residential homes and small to medium businesses can take advantage of this energy source.

    But how do Solar Panels work?

    Solar rooftop panels rely on photovoltaic cells within the panels to absorb the energy emitted by the sun and converts it into electricity. These cells are made of conducive materials like silicon, acting as a semiconductor. When these solar cells receive sunlight, a chemical reaction occurs within them, which then releases electrons, which generates an electric current.

    The core component of these photovoltaic cells in a solar rooftop system are layers of doped silicon crystal-based semiconductor materials. A positive charge is created by the bottom layer of the cell, that is laden with boron which bonds with silicon. While the negative charge is created by the top layer that is doped with phosphorus. An electric field is produced by the movement of the surface between these two layers called the P-N junction.

    When the cells receive sunlight, photons knock electrons out of both the layers. The flow of electrons then occurs, since the top and bottom layers possess opposite charges. The electrons then travel to an external circuit through which electricity is carried for usage purposes, controlled by the P-N junction.

    How is this converted electricity utilised and tracked?

    The electricity is in the form of DC current, that is unusable for home appliances. A solar inverter converts it into AC current, flows through a service panel, after which it can be safely used for all purposes. Simultaneously, a solar meter keeps track of the solarrooftop power production and bring to notice any potential problems. This, in a nutshell is the basic process through which solar energy is converted into useable electricity.

    Thus, solar energy can be easily harnessed for all purposes from residential to commercial purposes. And if you are looking for solar financing, look no further than Electronica Finance Limited. EFL offers Rooftop Solar Loans with up to 75% of the installation value, for a loan term of up to 4 years at flexible interest rates and offer collateral-free loan for up to 15 lakhs.

    So, harness the power of clean energy and be independent of rising power and frequent power cuts, with your very own rooftop solar unit.

    Electronica Finance

    We at Electronica Finance are on a mission to simplify the Finance for MSME businesses to be a Globally Trusted Financial Partner for MSMEs, with a DNA of ‘Customer First Approach’.

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