The year 2012 should be a great year for solar energy. The Federal tax credit is still in place until 2016, the FPL rebate program will have another round of funding in the spring, and prices on solar electric systems have never been lower!
I suspect that 2012 will be a year where solar photovoltaics will thrive. Module prices are so low that the module now accounts for only 25% of a typical installed system. The precipitous drop in prices has already led to thousands of Florida homeowners making the plunge into solar. For anyone that was on the fence a year ago, there is absolutely no reason not to pull the trigger now.
Solar pool heat will continue to be a staple in the solar industry in Southwest Florida.
Everyone wants a warm pool, and nothing comes close in terms of price-to-performance (value) for heating pool water. A solar pool heater can still be installed for less than an electric heat pump and doesn’t cost anything to run!
Solar water heating systems should have taken off in 2011 with the FPL solar rebate program that offers $1,000 for residential installations and more for commercial systems. This year I suspect that companies will ramp up marketing efforts to let the public know that there is free money available from the state’s largest utility. The rebate can amount to 30% of the purchase price. Coupled with the Federal tax incentive, the consumer can ultimately pay very little for a solar water heater.
If new construction ramps up again this year, we will see many more green builders pop up, and solar will be an option for many home buyers. Pool building can also result in a significant spike in solar pool heating sales.
With Federal stimulus money running out, 2012 will probably not be a banner year for government solar projects and grant funded solar projects. However, local governments may take advantage of low solar electric prices and make the move into solar to help reduce operating costs.
We will continue to work with building departments to streamline and standardize permitting procedures. Many frustrations (on both sides) come from not understanding the requirements for installing a solar energy system.
Overall, 2012 should be a great year for solar energy in Southwest Florida. I’m certainly looking forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead!