There is no question that solar is now “mainstream.” The annual solar photovoltaic production in 2010 was more than double that in 2009, and all signs point to a continuing explosion of solar energy installations in the coming years.
My employer’s photovoltaic installations have shown a similar increase in volume in Southwest Florida, albeit not quite as dramatic. The largest job in the company’s history was completed in 2010, and the second largest job was just completed this year. However, with the advent of FPL’s utility rebate program in 2011, the quantity of residential and business photovoltaic systems has increased, resulting in a higher total installed volume.
The other good news for solar customers is that solar prices have plummeted as a result of oversupply of PV modules on the market. Despite the record rate of installations, solar module manufacturer’s outpaced the market, installing an amazing amount of new capacity. That’s great for the consumer, but not great for the supply chain. With prices so low, the absolute dollar profitability on a typical job is drastically lower now, even if profit margins have remained steady or increased.
Solar prices are not expected to increase drastically as the supply/demand balance returns to more normal and sustainable levels, but we may see some price increases as manufacturers scale back production. What is clear is that people are buying solar now both worldwide and in Southwest Florida. Is it your time?