Solar Now Costs Much Less

We’ve just received a copy of a new study by SolarCity and CleanEdge. It’s a broad survey of American attitudes about solar, renewable energy, and clean energy. We felt these results were important enough to share. Some excerpts from the report appear below, and the full report can be found here.

The most surprising and important finding involves perception. Only 45% of American homeowners believe that solar power is more affordable today than it was three years ago—even though during the past several years prices for solar panels dropped by more than half. Perhaps the solar industry has been slow to communicate effectively just how far solar prices have dropped. Here is one example:

  • Recently, we quoted a homeowner $25,990 for a 9.12kW rooftop solar electric system
  • 3 years ago, we quoted that same homeowners $49,263 for a 7.2kW system on the same rooftop
  • This example system represents an almost 50% price drop!

Other key highlights from the 2014 U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy Survey include:

Homeowners Want Energy Options

  • Majority of homeowners (69%) want more choices when it comes to their energy and electricity supply.
  • Three out of four respondents believe that utilities should not be able to block individual residential customers from installing distributed solar power, energy storage, and other onsite systems. Such sentiments were strongest among respondents that identified themselves as Republicans, Conservatives, the middle-aged (55-69), and elderly (70+), at 80%, 83%, 89%, and 94%, respectively.
  • 73% of homeowners would welcome an inexpensive and reliable form of energy provided by someone other than their current utility.
  • 62% of  homeowners want solar power for their homes.
  • 50% of homeowners are interested in backup power for their homes.

Support for Renewable Energy is Strong and Widespread

  • 88% of homeowners believe that renewable energy is important to America’s future.
  • Support is high among all major political affiliations,with respondents that identified themselves as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents coming in at 87%, 93%, and 83%, respectively.

Homeowners Weigh Environmental Impact, but Economics Rule

  • Homeowners say they care about the environmental impact of their car, home, and other major purchases. 70% consider or investigate the environmental impact/sustainability of big-ticket items when making purchasing decisions.
  • Such environmental considerations are increasing. Nationwide, more than half of homeowners said they were more likely to make such considerations today than three years ago.
  • While homeowners say they care about the environment, economics drive most purchasing decisions. Respondents cite zero up-front costs and ongoing cost savings as the top two reasons for considering a solar power installation.

Clean-Energy Purchases are Becoming Mainstream, but Perceived Price Barriers Persist

  • Perceived price barriers have kept some homeowners from adopting clean-energy products. Less than half of all homeowners nationally (45%) believe that solar power is more affordable today than it was three years ago—even though during the past several years prices for solar panels dropped by more than half.
  • As noted above, homeowners state that low up-front costs, and savings over time, would drive increased adoption of solar power and other clean-energy purchases.

This report brought to you by SolarCity and Clean Edge in collaboration with NASDAQ