Solar completed a journey across the world, literally. Meanwhile, similar to last year, residential third-party ownership companies announced new, large funds to support the growth of residential solar throughout the U.S. And a new report found that continued support of solar through incentives, could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
MS Turanor PlanetSolar, a solar photovoltaic-powered hydrofoil, last week completed the first solar-powered circumnavigation of the world by land, sea or air. The boat, powered by SunPower modules, spent 19 months at sea, stopping at international ports along the way to show people the power of solar. PlanetSolar ended its journey in Monaco’s Hercule Harbor on May 4.
While the journey showed the possibilities of solar, a lot of other things are happening, like residential third-party ownership (TPO) companies getting ready for the summer with new floods of cash. Nearly half a billion in tax equity funds were created in the past two weeks to support more residential solar installations in the U.S. First US Bancorp and SunRun partnered to create a $150 million fund to support SunRun’s TPOs. Then Clean Power Finance and its partners, MS Solar Solutions Corp. owned by Morgan Stanley, Main Street Power Co. and Zions Bancorporation, announced a $300 million fund to support Clean Power Finance’s white-labeled TPO options. Under Clean Power Finance’s options, solar installers can label the service as their own, but with Clean Power Finance as the transaction facilitator and Morgan Stanley as the project financier.
Of course, whatever these companies are doing will be further bolstered by incentives. And such incentives can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs according to a new report from the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The study likened the development of solar to the way other energy sources in the U.S., like coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy, gained footholds through incentives and how that has helped them grow. But the report also found that solar power can create more jobs—up to 965,000 jobs by 2030—than any other energy source on a per megawatt hour basis.
There’s a need for more energy storage technologies to help reduce the intermittency of wind and solar. The expansion of energy storage technologies is expected to take off as more wind and solar come online, according to a new report from Lux Research. The report finds that the energy storage market will see more innovation in battery and other energy storage technologies to complement the growth in renewables.
Another important albeit less exciting part of the solar industry is insurance. Most recently insurance giant Assurant jumped into the game by offering a new insurance product aimed at commercial installations. Larger, utility-scale projects have carried certain insurance policies, but this is among the first—if not the first to cover commercial-scale installations between 100 kilowatts and 3 megawatts.