As we step into 2013, we’re continuing to learn that the number of solar installations in 2012 has blown away previous years, particularly in Germany and in 2013, more growth is expected in other countries in Europe, like France. Meanwhile the U.S. is leading the way with new financing mechanisms for solar, which are increasingly drawing interest and more diverse crowd of investors. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has redoubled his efforts to expand solar and electric vehicle infrastructure in the empire state as it looks forward into recovering in the 20-teens.
In 2012 Germany continued its solar dominance, somewhat to the government’s chagrin. In 2012 the country saw 7.63 gigawatts of newly installed solar, up from 7.49 gigawatts installed in 2011. The government has been trying to slow the growth of solar down in the country by reducing the country’s feed-in tariff, which led to the initial explosion in growth. In 2013, the government wants to see between 3.5 gigawatts and 4 gigawatts of newly installed solar. To help achieve that, they’ve been cutting back the feed-in tariff by 2.5 percent per month starting Nov 1, 2012, and going through Jan. 31, 2013.
Meanwhile neighboring France is trying to shore up its solar industry by increasing incentives in 2013. The country recently doubled its solar goals for 2012 to 1 gigawatt from 500 megawatts. The doubling is an attempt to staunch a significant loss of jobs in the sector, which has lost nearly half its jobs since 2010, when it employed 32,500 people, as of 2012 solar employed about 18,000. The doubling in calls for solar is anticipated to spur about 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in investments this year.
At the same time the overall money invested in new solar technologies across the world is continuing to fall. That’s according to a new report from Mercom Capital Group, llc., which found that in virtually all sectors of the solar industry venture capital (VC) funding was down in 2012 from 2011. The report found that VC solar investments fell to $992 million in 2012, compared to $1.9 billion in 2011. However, the bright spot was in residential solar leasing, which has taken firm hold in an increasing number of states in the U.S.
Even though residential solar leasing hasn’t taken off in Europe like it has in the U.S., now might be the best to invest in solar there. A new report from Great Britain-based GlobalData warns that now is the time to solar in Europe—particularly in Italy and Great Britain as they face increasing domestic gas costs.
Solar leasing is a residential and commercial financing method that’s taken off in the U.S., but its not the only financing mechanism that’s getting a boost in the states. Mosaic is a company that’s been developing community solar projects funded by buy-ins from community members. Last week it created its first truly crowd-funded projects, they sold out in under 23 hours. In under a day more than 400 people funded four projects totaling $313,000 with investments ranging from $25 to $30,000, with the average investment being close to $700. The projects will offer investors a 4.5 percent annual return for nine years.
The Empire State realizes the promise of solar. As such New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) called for the state to double-down on its efforts to increase solar and electric vehicles in the state. As such, during his State of the State speech, Cuomo called for investing $150 million annually for 10 years in the New York Sun solar jobs program, create the New York Greenbank, a $1 billion bank to leverage public funds with private sector money to spur clean energy and named Richard Kauffman, a former senior advisor to the United States Secretary of Energy as New York’s energy czar.