Solar Growth without Subsidies — Count on It

My hunch is that solar installations will continue to grow in the United States, even as the new administration begins to implement new policies. From what I’m reading, there are three key findings that support this:

1.   Solar prices continue to fall.

From 1988 through 2015, median installed prices declined by 6% to 12% annually. The most rapid rates of decline began after 2009, driven by price reductions in global PV modules, hardware and “soft” costs.1

2.  Solar creates jobs.

According to the National Solar Jobs Census 2016 from the Solar Foundation, one in 50 new U.S. jobs in 2016 came from the solar industry. As late as November, 2016, there were 260,077 solar workers, almost 25% more than the prior year. The solar industry is driving job growth in a variety of sectors outside of construction, including engineering, sales and marketing.2 The report indicates that the solar industry employs more than twice as many as the entire coal industry and as many as the natural gas industry in the United States. The median wage for solar installers is $26 per hour, and 67% of all solar jobs do not require a bachelor’ degree.

3.  Investors can make money on solar.

Investment advisors predict that clean energy companies will continue to thrive regardless of what the new administration does.

“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to the economics driving solar, wind and battery storage,”

said Thomas Van Dyck, managing director in the SRI Wealth Management Group at RBC Wealth Management. “The economics are such that in California, wind and solar are the cheapest forms of power you can put in place. If you’re a long-term investor, you need to look at these long-term trends.”

Nancy Pfund, a founder and managing partner at DBL Partners, believes investors are going to redouble their efforts to migrate portfolios to a 21st-century energy economy. “No longer is there a trade-off between what you believe in and what you can make money off of.”3


The Path to Success in Solar Will Be Challenging for Marketers

It’s not going to be easy for solar marketers, especially given the unprecedented uncertainty facing our nation today. But at EMA, we believe that brands can capitalize on moments of uncertainty and accelerate growth by building Affection, Relevance and Trust, the pillars of our Brand as Friend® philosophy, based on nine proven drivers of friendship. In today’s marketplace, trust is especially critical. When a brand can guide its audiences from all across the value chain — from suppliers and channel partners to installers and energy consumers — to the most thoughtful and intelligent choices, you become a thought leader and, like a friend, someone people can really trust.

To learn more about how EMA’s Brand as Friend approach can help your business in turbulent times, contact John Leibrick, vice president, director of EMA Insight and chief friend, at jleibrick@mower.com.


Tracking the Sun IX: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-Residential Photovoltaic Systems in the United States. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. SunShot, U.S. Department of Energy. August, 2016.
National Solar Jobs Census 2016, The Solar Foundation.
Trump May Not Like Alternative Energy, but Investors Should. The New York Times. January 6, 2017.