As we begin 2024, pv magazine USA reflects on the articles last year that attracted the most readership. Last year, we had strong reader interest in residential solar asset longevity, changes to net metering policy, market signals, and domestic manufacturing.
Below are the top ten most read articles of 2023. We look forward to continuing to be the leading source of solar industry news and analysis in 2024. Thank you for reading!
1. How long do residential solar panels last?
Read here: September 8, 2023
Residential solar panels are often sold with long-term loans or leases, with homeowners entering contracts of 20 years or more. But how long do panels last, and how resilient are they?
Panel life depends on several factors, including climate, module type, and the racking system used, among others. While there isn’t a specific “end date” for a panel per se, loss of production over time often forces equipment retirements.
When deciding whether to keep your panel running 20-30 years in the future, or to look for an upgrade at that time, monitoring output levels is the best way to make an informed decision.
2. California proposes “blatant seizure of property” in solar ruling
Read here: October 24, 2023
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is soon to vote on a proposed decision that is expected to be harmful to the value of rooftop solar for renters in multifamily housing, farms, and schools.
The decision would disallow residents of multi-meter properties to consume their own rooftop solar production, even if they own the solar array. The policy forces customers to first sell their solar production to the utility, and then buy it back at higher rates.
“The CPUC is proposing a blatant seizure of property,” said the Solar Rights Alliance.
3. California rooftop solar installations drop 80% following NEM 3.0
Read here: December 1, 2023
California, once a leader in residential solar, is feeling the effects from unpopular policy changes like the introduction of Net Energy Metering (NEM) 3.0 and more recent market rate cuts for rooftop solar generation by renters, schools, and farms.
The two policy changes cut compensation rates for exporting local, clean solar generation to the grid by about 75%. Utility interconnection request data shows that solar sales have fallen between 66% and 83% year-over-year following NEM 3.0.
What’s more, there have been massive layoffs industry wide. CALSSA said over 17,000 solar jobs have been lost in 2023, representing 22% of all solar jobs in the industry.
4. Indiana killed net metering, solar down 67%, utility now seeking 23% rate increase
Read here: November 21, 2023
The demise of rooftop solar in Indiana coincides with significant increases in electricity prices over the last two decades. This development was brought to light in recent filings that show the Indiana-Michigan Power Company (I&M) is seeking a 23% hike in electricity rates. The Citizens Action Coalition Indiana (CAC Indiana) indicates that distributed solar collapsed after the state eliminated net metering in favor of “excess distributed generation” (EDG) tariff on July 1, 2022, the day that Indiana rooftop solar died.
As this has occurred, electricity utilities are now seeking to massively increase the cost of electricity.
5. California is curtailing more solar power than ever before
Read here: October 31, 2023
Curtailment of renewable energy, particularly solar generation, is steadily on the rise in California, as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In 2022, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) curtailed 2.4 million MWh of solar and wind generation. Solar accounts for 95% of that total.
As intermittent solar generation increases, a lack of available transmission infrastructure or energy storage capacity is causing temporary gluts of generation. Curtailment occurs either when there is congestion, when power lines don’t have enough capacity to deliver the power, or during oversupply, when electricity generation exceeds customer demand.
6. California’s electricity duck curve is deepening
Read here: July 5, 2023
The phenomenon of the “duck curve” is an electric grid operation concept that signifies the mismatch between peak solar generation (mid-day to afternoon) and peak electricity demand (late afternoon and evenings). Shaped like the outline of a duck, the curve shows the peaks and valleys of this mismatch throughout a typical day.
The experience of a duck curve can cause stress on the grid and challenges for the electricity market, causing California and other solar-friendly states to boost adoption of energy storage to meet these challenges.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) shared that as solar adoption grows in California, the “duck curve” is deepening.
7. How long do residential solar batteries last?
Read here: September 15, 2023
Residential energy storage has become an increasingly popular feature of home solar. A recent SunPower survey of more than 1,500 households found that about 40% of Americans worry about power outages on a regular basis. Of the survey respondents actively considering solar for their homes, 70% said they planned to include a battery energy storage system.
Warranty periods can offer a look in installer and manufacturer expectations of the life of a battery. Common warranty periods are typically around 10 years. The warranty for the Enphase IQ Battery, for instance, ends at 10 years or 7,300 cycles, whatever occurs first.
Solar installer Sunrun said batteries can last anywhere between 5-15 years. That means a replacement likely will be needed during the 20-30 year life of a solar system.
8. Virginia governor kills Ford-CATL battery plant, calling it a “front for the Chinese Communist Party”
Read here: January 19, 2023
Near the end of 2022, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin told the Virginia Economic Development Partnership group to remove the state from the running to host a $3.5 billion battery factory that Ford Motor was considering in partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer.
During the speech, he called on Virginia’s General Assembly to send him a bill that would “prohibit dangerous foreign entities tied to the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing Virginia’s farmland.” In the Washington Post, Youngkin’s chief legal counsel Richard Cullen was quoted saying, “They (CATL) were looking for land and incentives to build something and I think that was the nucleus of the evolving concern about farmland.”
9. California rooftop solar policy struggles serve as warning to nation
Read here: November 9, 2023
In the pv magazine Roundtables US 2023 live event, four expert panelists shared their views on the post-NEM 3.0 California rooftop solar market, and how energy storage will need to play an increasingly important role.
Watch the recording from the annual Roundtables US event here.
10. Mysterious, higher energy yields in vertical PV systems
Read here: November 15, 2023
A group of researchers at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has conducted a series of tests and simulations to understand why vertical PV systems tend to provide unexpected yield gains compared to horizontal arrays and have found that vertical installations have much lower operating temperatures.
Thank you for reading pv magazine USA. We’ll continue to report on these topics and other emergent news and analysis heading into 2024. Stay tuned for more from the entire pv magazine group, including on our global site.
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