We just told you that if current rates hold, there will be one new solar installation built in the U.S. every 83 seconds by 2016, for a total of 9 gigawatts.
Deutsche Bank's Vishal Shah, Jerimiah Booream-Phelps and Susie Min are out with an even more bullish projection: they think that the U.S. could hit 50 gigawatts (although this would still only be 2% of the entire U.S. energy picture):
They offer five reasons for their outlook:
1) Solar is already cost competitive in 10 states.
Deutsche Bank estimates the levelized cost of energy for solar to be $0.11 to $0.15 per kilowatt hour, compared with $0.11 to $0.37 kilowatt hour for retail electricity, for states including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Vermont (along with the usual suspects like California). "C onsidering the improved economics of solar in these markets along with other growth enablers such as solar leasing, availability of low cost financing, we expect installed capacity growth of ~600% over the next 4 years," they write.
2) Solar will soon be cost competitive in 12 other states.
Electricity in the existing parity states is slightly more expensive. But Deutsche Bank predicts the overall cost of solar will decline to $2.50 from $3.00 over the next 18 months, at which point states that enjoy historically cheaper electricity including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland, along with Washington DC, will see parity.
3) Renewable corporations are getting smarter about how they're structured.
More companies are creating "C" corporations that act as holding companies for renewable assets. These are also known as YieldCos. RenewableGridMag has compared YieldCos to REITs and MLPs, which enjoy special tax breaks. " If investors value MLP and REIT assets at 7% to 8% distributable cashflow yield, there is good reason to believe they will value renewable assets at similar, if not lower, yields." Deutsche Bank says the tax benefits enjoyed by YieldCos can reduce solar financing costs by up to 300 bps, "in addition to providing significant amount of liquidity within the solar sector." Ultimately, YieldCos can bring the levelized cost of energy down to $0.08-$0.14 per kilowatt hour from $0.10 to $0.16.
4) The expiration of the solar investment tax credit in 2016 could see a flurry of new installations coming on line.
Currently, the ITC stands at 30% of the cost of purchase. Deutsche Bank assumes there will be a big new push into solar as the ITC expires. But if it's extended Deutsche Bank estimates a full 47 states will be able to reach grid parity.
5) Solar leasing is booming.
Solar leasing allows residents to get solar installed on their home for free, and pay nothing for maintenance. Deutsche Banks says solar leasing firms are already "highly profitable" and will see greater incentive to go after users before the expiration of the ITC in 2016.
The revolution is real.
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