2022 Looks Bright for Solar
Heading into a new year, there’s little doubt that interest in solar and battery power is only growing. Rising energy costs, unreliable electrical infrastructure, and unpredictable weather events are driving more home and business owners to seriously consider making the switch to solar panel and solar battery backup systems. As solar has become more affordable, the benefits of energy independence have become accessible to most any homeowner.
At the same time, leaders at the local, state, federal, and corporate levels are increasing their commitments to clean energy, setting aggressive goals to reduce carbon emissions and reach net-zero standards.
After years of steady incremental growth, is it clean energy’s time to shine? Let’s examine a few factors that could make 2022 a breakthrough for solar and battery systems.
Will 2022 Be Another Record-Breaking Year for Solar?
By all accounts, 2021 was a great year to go solar. Even with the lingering effects of a global pandemic, the US hit new milestones for clean energy growth. Residential solar capacity grew by 21% year over year, surpassing 3 million home solar panel system installations. In 2022, some forecasts predict even greater gains, including in energy storage capacity which is expected to increase six-fold over the previous record in 2020.
The transition to clean energy continues to be a focal point for new federal spending as the current administration has set a goal to reach 100% clean energy production by 2035. In spite of some tense rhetoric, clean energy investments do remain popular on both sides of the political aisle. Independent of a larger legislative package, it is possible that we will see standalone bills to address critical aspects of climate change and energy infrastructure this year.
What Solar Tax Credits Are Available in 2022?
Of course, the burning question for most home and business owners is: will the existing solar investment tax credit or Solar ITC be extended or expanded?
Since its inception in 2005, the Solar ITC has been an incredibly popular program and one of the instrumental drivers increasing clean energy growth in the US. As adoption has increased, prices have fallen significantly. In fact, the price of a residential solar panel system in 2022 costs less than half of what it did in 2010.
Even with these cost reductions, new solar owners could still qualify for a 26% federal solar tax credit in 2021 via the Solar ITC program. While there is often chatter about expansion of this popular initiative, current guidance says the 26% tax credit will remain in place for 2022.
While the ITC Federal tax credit for solar installations reimburses 26% of the project price this year, the tax credit is set to drop down to 22% in 2023 and is scheduled to sunset entirely for residential customers by 2024.
New Solar Technology Coming in 2022
Beyond cost, one of the great areas of advancement in solar has been in technology. Home and business owners have greater access to better products with more benefits than ever before.
First, over the last decade, solar panels have gotten much more efficient. The current generation of solar PV modules offers a great deal more energy production per square foot than previous generations. Where older systems may have utilized 250W – 300W solar panels, modern systems often feature panels that are 350W – 420W in size. For consumers, this means greater energy production and a larger offset of utility expenses.
That said, advancements aren’t limited to solar panel size and efficiency either. In 2022, there are great strides being made in solar inverter design, battery storage systems, and fully integrated solar roof systems.
The next iteration of Enphase’s s solar microinverter, the IQ8, has many in the industry excited. A key component to many residential solar systems, microinverters convert DC power being created by solar panels into the AC power used by homes and businesses. The Enphase IQ8 represents a step forward by allowing solar systems to operate independently of the grid. Earlier versions require solar panel systems without battery storage to shut down in the event of an outage. With the upcoming IQ8 inverters, individual systems will be able to form their own microgrid – operating independent of utility service. As long as the sun is out, systems utilizing this technology will remain active and produce power.
Additionally, any discussion of solar innovation would not be complete without mentioning Tesla. 2022 will see a wider launch of Powerwall Plus – an updated version of Tesla’s Powerwall 2 solar battery system. The Powerwall Plus will feature increased power handling (up to 22kW in full sun vs 10kW for Powerwall 2) thanks to its built-in solar inverter. The increase allows these units more continuous power to accommodate a greater number of electrical loads in the event of an outage. At 13.5kWh, the storage capacity of the Powerwall Plus remains the same as a Powerwall 2
Lastly, after years of development, Tesla’s Solar Roof product is finally available in Louisiana and other southern markets. Tesla Solar Roof differs from traditional solar PV systems by integrating solar production directly into roofing tiles themselves, providing a sleek aesthetic that maximizes the solar potential of a given property. As the most premium solar product on the market, a Tesla Solar Roof is a perfect system for the discerning owner looking to make a meaningful investment in solar without compromise.
Is Now The Right Time to Make The Switch To Solar?
Given all of these positive trends, can anything slow the growth of solar in 2022?
Like so many areas of the economy, clean energy has not been immune to the supply chain challenges seen in the latter half of 2021. Many manufacturers have experienced bottlenecks in acquiring materials and components necessary to meet product demand across the industry. In many cases, from Tier 1 solar panels to Tesla Powerwalls, demand has outpaced supply, resulting in lead times that range from weeks to months.
Increased demand coupled with fluctuating supply can certainly have an impact on the cost for end consumers. Waiting even a few weeks or months to make a decision on a solar project could potentially cost hundreds, if not thousands, in lost savings.
So why wait? For these reasons and more, 2022 is shaping up to be a bright year for solar.
Make 2022 the year you make the switch – there’s never been a better time!