The race to power homes and businesses with solar energy is intensifying as prices drop, extreme weather causes more outages and the Build Back Better plan — as currently proposed — seeks to increase the federal investment tax credit (ITC) from 26 percent to 30 percent and extend it for at least 10 years.
The $2 trillion social and climate spending bill includes a 10 percent tax credit for families living in low-income communities and an additional 10 percent tax credit if a certain percentage of the solar parts are manufactured in the United States.
Solar's improving competitiveness against other technologies has increased its share of total U.S. electrical generation from 0.1 percent in 2010 to nearly 4 percent today, according to the Washington-based Solar Energy Industry Association.
In the meantime, SEIA says the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70 percent over the last decade. An average-sized residential system is down from a pre-incentive price of $40,000 in 2010 to about $20,000 today,
New types of photovoltaic (PV) technology also are generating interest in addition to traditional crystalline silicon. SEIA points to thin-film PV, which is a fast-growing but small part of the commercial solar market, and building-integrated PV (BIPV) like Tesla Solar Roof products, which double as solar panels and roof shingles.