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Alternative Energy: Will the Sun Ever Shine on the Solar Industry?

By Mike Dotten*
September 9, 2013

The challenges facing the solar industry continue to be daunting, the victim of oversupply and falling prices. As the industry’s ranks thin out, however, new opportunities will arise for companies with a well thought out business and regulatory plan. In this article we report on some recent developments that seem to give shape to the evolution of the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry and, we believe, foretell where it is headed.

Economies of scale, technological breakthroughs, and government incentives are causing solar PV energy prices to decline. While dumping complaints against Chinese manufacturers have succeeded before the International Trade Administration,[1] the size of the countervailing tariffs is not expected to have dramatic impacts favoring domestic manufacturers. In order to improve margins in an increasingly competitive PV industry, successful solar component manufacturers are starting to develop projects rather than just manufacture silicon wafers or film or solar panels. In the end, additional manufacturing breakthroughs, adequate capitalization and economies of scale should make the PV industry more vibrant. As global climate change initiatives are reflected in pricing either through tax policy, cap and trade or other forms of offsets, the relative price of solar energy is likely to decline. [2]

Price of Solar Continues to Decline

The price of solar PV energy in residential-, commercial- and utility-scale installations has fallen dramatically in recent years. Already in certain areas, residential solar PV is able to generate electricity at a cost equal to or less than the price of purchasing it from the grid, businesses are looking to rooftop solar to cut power bills, and utility-scale solar has become increasingly competitive. Many industry experts project that solar will continue its march toward grid parity – solar-generated electricity that is no more expensive than electricity purchased from the grid.[3]

In 2008, solar PV modules – exclusive of the cost of installation and required equipment such as inverters – cost approximately $4.80 per watt.[4] Experts hoped that in the coming years modules would cost half that much.[5] By the first quarter of 2012, however, solar PV modules were selling for only $.90/W [6] – and prices have dropped considerably since then.

In a recent report, the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research analyzed pricing trends across the solar PV industry.[7] As of the first quarter of 2013, the price of solar PV modules was only $0.64/W. Installed prices, which take into consideration the cost of everything from permitting to inverters to labor, were down as well. Across all installation types (residential, commercial, and utility), the average installed price of solar PV fell from $4.45/W in the first quarter of 2012 to $3.37/W in the first quarter of 2013 – a decline of nearly 25%.[8] The average residential system cost $4.93/W in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $5.86/W the previous year. [9] Utility-scale installations were even cheaper: just $2.14/W in Q1 2013, as opposed to $2.90/W in Q1 2012.

The results have been impressive. In Hawaii, for example, residential solar PV energy has already reached true grid parity; PV systems in that state can provide power at or below the cost of power from the grid, subsidies or not.[10] In many other parts of the country, solar is cost-effective for residential consumers when tax incentives are taken into account. The success – perhaps even existence – of domestic companies such as SolarCity, now the nation’s second largest solar company, is also testament to the increasing competitiveness of solar PV. SolarCity does not manufacture solar panels or produce related components, but instead focuses on installing and leasing PV systems to homeowners via long-term contracts, generally at little or no upfront cost to the consumer. Responding to a surging demand from homeowners and businesses – and backed in part by a recent $500 million financing agreement from Goldman Sachs[11] – the company has steadily increased spending to install more systems. [12] Even with its focus on costly projects designed to provide not short term gain, but long term revenue, SolarCity recently reported that its losses have narrowed for the second quarter of 2013.[13]

Solar PV has also become increasingly popular with businesses, non-profits and governments.[14] Walmart, for example, has already installed 65,000 kW of solar energy.[15] The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports that under current market and policy conditions, up to 53 percent of supermarkets in the nation are located in areas where solar energy is no more expensive than electricity from the grid.[16]

Utility-scale solar has made great strides as well. The city of Palo Alto, for example, recently entered into a 30-year power purchase agreement for 80 megawatts (mW) of solar PV electricity for only 6.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).[17] This price, which includes the 30% federal investment tax credit,[18] compares favorably to power produced by conventional means.[19] Palo Alto’s PPA even rivals the expected cost of energy from a new natural gas facility (6.7 cents / kWh),[20] despite historically low natural gas prices. In New Mexico, the manufacturer and developer First Solar recently agreed to sell 50 mW of solar PV energy to El Paso Electric for only 5.7 cents/kWh – similar to the price of electricity from an existing coal plant.[21] Even without the subsidy of 2.7 cents/kWh from New Mexico’s production tax credit, the resulting 8.4 cents/kWh cost would be less than the estimated cost of power from a new coal project. [22] Moreover, these costs are substantially less than previously approved solar purchase agreements for the El Paso system.[23]

All told, more than 65 gigawatts (gW) of solar has now been installed worldwide – compared to only 4.5 gW in 2005.[24]

Worldwide Oversupply and Trade Disputes

While lower raw material prices,[25] technological innovation, and economies of scale[26] have helped reduce the price of solar PV, much is simply due to the fact that production of solar PV systems has far exceeded demand in recent years.[27] While current worldwide module production capacity has been estimated at between 60 and 70 gW, experts expect only 30 gW of demand in 2013.[28]

Many industry experts have blamed heavily state-subsidized Chinese manufacturers for flooding the market with solar PV modules and components at prices well below the cost of production. In 2012, after determining that “an industry in the United States is materially injured as a result of subsidized imports from the PRC,” the Department Of Commerce issued a final order imposing tariffs and countervailing duties on crystalline silicon PV modules and cells from China.[29] While this ruling may have validated the concerns certain domestic manufacturers raised about their Chinese counterparts, the efficacy and wisdom of the penalties has been questioned from the beginning. Some noted, for example, that Chinese manufacturers could easily circumvent the tariffs with relatively inexpensive supply-chain modifications.[30] Others worried that even if the tariffs were effective in stemming the influx of low-price Chinese solar modules, China would respond with tariffs of its own on the sizeable American solar export industry.[31] These fears are proving to have been well-founded. First, the U.S. tariffs have not posed a significant obstacle; as one executive explained, Chinese manufacturers simply avoid them by using solar cells from Taiwan for U.S.-bound panels.[32] In fact, Chinese solar manufacturers recently set a record for PV panel shipments, with five Chinese firms accounting for a third of global shipments.[33] Second, China has moved to impose tariffs of up to 57% on US polysilicon exports, a decision that is widely expected to hurt US producers.[34] While U.S. producers supplied 24 percent of the world’s polysilicon in 2012, these tariffs could shift the advantage to major manufacturers based elsewhere.[35]

A similar trade dispute continues to play out between the European Union and China over Chinese solar panels.[36] Earlier this year, the European Commission imposed provisional tariffs on Chinese solar panels, citing heavy subsidies that permitted Chinese firms to sell PV products below the actual cost of production. [37] In response, China moved to impose tariffs not only on European polysilicon,[38] but even European wine.[39] The European Union, however, ultimately decided against finalizing the Chinese import tariffs; instead, the EU and China agreed to a minimum price of 74 cents per watt for Chinese-made solar panels.[40] Some expect the EU-China settlement to impact the ongoing dispute between China and the U.S.[41]

Solar Manufacturers Facing Challenges

While more affordable solar PV products have benefitted consumers and led to far more installed solar PV than experts would have thought possible a decade ago, solar manufacturers have struggled as prices have fallen. The failure of U.S.-based Solyndra proved particularly newsworthy, [42] but Solyndra is only one of many sizeable solar PV companies to falter in recent years.[43] Evergreen Solar, a Massachusetts-based solar panel manufacturer, filed a Chapter 11 petition in 2011.[44] SpectraWatt, an Intel spinoff with facilities in Oregon, also shut down that year.[45] Siemens closed its solar panel division in 2013 after suffering almost $1 billion in losses in recent years.[46] Bosch, after suffering losses up to $3.1 billion, did the same in March of 2013.[47] SoloPower recently closed its Portland, Oregon manufacturing facility,[48] and announced restructuring.[49] German-based SolarWorld recently laid off workers at its Hillsboro, Oregon plant,[50] and announced restructuring that has been described as “a last-ditch effort to save Germany’s biggest solar-panel maker.”[51] The list goes on, and it continues to grow.[52]

Even Chinese solar manufacturers, after years of torrid and arguably unsustainable growth, are proving not to be immune from the economic realities forcing so many American and European firms out of the market.[53] As China demonstrates a growing reluctance artificially to prop up struggling solar firms, Chinese banks have been pushing consolidation, and many manufacturers have already shut their doors.[54] Far and away the most significant example of a failed Chinese solar manufacturer is Suntech Power Holdings Ltd. A startup in 2001, by the end of the decade Suntech had become the world’s biggest solar panel producer.[55] In a stunning turn, its primary unit filed for bankruptcy in March, 2013.[56] SImilarly, up to 75 percent of China’s polysilicon manufacturers are expected to disappear – this despite new tariffs on American polysilicon.[57]

Manufacturers Turning to Project Development

Though solar bankruptcies have and will no doubt continue to capture headlines, the outlook for manufacturers is not uniformly bleak. In particular, faced with worldwide oversupply and low prices, several solar manufacturers have turned towards project development to earn larger margins and to assure the use of their own manufactured components, finding some success in the process.

First Solar, the United States’ largest solar company, has seemed to revamp its business model, leading this charge. At a time when many solar manufacturers have faltered, First Solar’s increasing emphasis on developing solar projects – for which it supplies its own solar panels – has helped it remain successful.[58] And although First Solar’s stock fell recently after it missed quarterly revenue and profit estimates, it is still showing a profit and many investors remain confident the firm’s model will remain successful.[59] First Solar recently announced its acquisition of a 1.5 gW project pipeline,[60] and is set to build the largest solar plant in Australia in conjunction with another developer.[61] In 2013 alone, the company plans to install 1 gW of solar.[62]

SunPower is another example of a major player that “built its business on solar-panel manufacturing, but has increasingly expanded into development of large solar-power plants and smaller home rooftop-solar systems.”[63] Helped in part by steady demand for its particularly efficient products, SunPower is now “selling panels as fast as it can make them.”[64] The company recently posted quarterly profits that considerably exceeded expectations.[65]

Canadian Solar, the Chinese PV manufacturer, has also begun to focus its efforts on developing projects that utilize its own solar panels. The company hopes that by targeting 50 percent of its 2013 revenue from its “total solutions business,” it will return to profitability for the year.[66] Toward this end, the company recently announced the sale of several utility-scale plants valued at nearly $280 million for which it will provide turnkey construction and operations services.[67]

If solar PV production continues to far outpace demand, manufacturers that provide turnkey projects, whether utility, commercial or residential, will be better positioned to survive in an increasingly competitive market. In other words, “value has migrated downstream to players that develop and finance solar projects and install capacity.”[68]

Solar Industry Outlook

In coming years, we expect the trends of global oversupply and manufacturer bankruptcies to continue. As a McKinsey and Company report put it, however, “these are natural growing pains, not death throes. The industry is entering a period of maturation that is likely to set conditions for more stable and expansive growth after 2015.”[69] Market forecasts remain strong. GTM Research anticipates 4.4 gW of PV to be installed in the United States in 2013,[70] and estimates that an additional 100 gW will be installed worldwide by 2015.[71] McKinsey estimates that by 2020, total worldwide installed capacity will likely be between 400 and 600 gW, with figures in excess of a terawatt possible.[72] Deutsche Bank analysts predict we are starting to see the “beginning of the grid parity era.”[73] Solar, in other words, is not going away. Though the details are beyond the scope of this article, we believe the following issues are worthy of particular attention moving forward.

Distributed generation

While utility-scale solar PV installations have been responsible for the majority of installed capacity to date,[74] many experts anticipate the next wave of growth to occur primarily in residential and commercial markets.[75] Some expect to see a distributed solar generation market worth over $100 billion by 2018.[76] As mentioned above, grid parity has already been reached in certain areas, and as the installed cost of solar continues to fall, more and more consumers and businesses will be able to generate their own electricity for less than the cost of purchasing it from traditional utilities.

The increasing popularity of distributed generation, however, will be accompanied by unique challenges. Disputes over net metering, a practice whereby individuals and businesses are compensated by utilities for feeding their excess solar energy into the grid, paying only for their net energy use, have already begun.[77] For the vast majority of residential- and commercial-scale solar installations, which lack storage capabilities, net metering is currently indispensable. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 encourages utilities to “make available upon request net metering service to any electric consumer that the electric utility serves,”[78] and 43 states along with the District of Columbia have adopted net metering in some form.[79] As rooftop solar becomes more commonplace, however, utilities are voicing concerns about net metering rules. Though the details are beyond the scope of this article, utilities argue that requiring them effectively to pay premium rates for excess solar electricity generated by customers who still rely heavily on the grid results in losses that the utility in turn must pass to other rate payers.[80] Utilities in California, for example, estimate that net metering may mean as much as $1.4 billion a year in lost revenue.[81] The California Public Utilities Commission is set to release a report on net metering this year that is likely to influence this increasingly significant debate.[82]

Technological innovation

While innovations across the solar PV industry can be expected to reduce costs and increase efficiency, developments in energy storage should prove particularly important to the future of solar. Because the amount of power generated by a PV system depends on the strength of the sun’s rays, the power generated by solar facilities fluctuates considerably, whether between night and day, summer and winter, or cloudy and sunny weather. This inconsistency in turn requires solar PV systems to be backed up by more reliable power sources – increasingly, natural gas generating facilities that can quickly ramp up and down to meet demand.[83] Cost-effective energy storage – which does not yet exist – could allow solar to strike out on its own. The energy storage field is currently seeing increased attention and investment, spurred in part by an aggressive California renewables target calling for 1.3 gW of storage by 2020.[84] Some in the PV industry expect storage significantly to boost the industry’s revenue.[85] Affordable storage could also obviate – at least from the perspective of solar companies – impending challenges relating to net metering,[86] by allowing consumer-generators to deliver electric capacity as well as energy.

Soft Costs

While the installed price of solar has declined sharply in recent years, much of the drop – at least in the United States – has been the result of falling module costs. Soft costs, which include labor, permitting, and interconnection, are responsible for up to 50 percent of the cost of small-scale PV systems[87] and have remained relatively unchanged.[88] Permitting, for example, can be very costly and time-consuming. This process takes an average of 8 weeks, and can involve up to five distinct agencies.[89] Permitting is so cumbersome in certain markets that many installers avoid them altogether.[90] With experts now pointing to stubborn soft costs as the primary reason that solar PV is more expensive in the U.S. than many other parts of the world,[91] it is becoming clear that these costs must be reduced if unsubsidized solar PV is to become competitive with traditional energy sources. Analysts, however, see significant potential for soft cost reduction. Regional permitting standards, for example, could serve to eliminate inconsistencies across jurisdictions that are currently keeping installation prices high.[92]

Government Action

Despite the falling cost of solar PV electricity, in most markets it is currently only cost-effective when government incentives are taken into account. The most significant of these incentives, the 30 percent federal energy investment tax credit (ITC), extends only through 2016.[93] While many in the solar industry agree that subsidies such as the ITC should eventually be phased out, few believe that time has come.[94] In addition to tax incentives, other government initiatives may prove to have a significant impact on the development of the solar PV industry. By way of example, the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which aims to make solar competitive with other power sources by the end of the decade, is investing in efforts to reduce the soft costs that are currently preventing solar from becoming even more competitive.[95]

Conclusion

The worldwide solar PV industry is in a period of consolidation, and many companies seem to be redirecting their business models. While rapidly falling prices have driven solar installations at previously difficult-to-imagine rates, those falling prices also have driven and will no doubt continue to drive many solar manufacturers out of business. Still, several solar manufacturers have demonstrated that good margins are to be found in project development, and that trend seems likely to continue. Though a variety of factors will influence the industry greatly in years to come, the rise of distributed generation, innovation and economies of scale, improved storage, reduced soft costs, and government initiatives seem likely to improve the prospects for diversified solar energy companies.

For more information on alternative energy generation, including solar, please contact Michael Dotten or any member of Marten Law’s Energy practice group.

* The author wishes to thank Zachary Kearns (Harvard Law School, 2014) for his invaluable contributions to this article. Zak joins Marten Law’s Portland office next fall, as an associate.

[1] See International Trade Administration, Fact Sheet: Commerce Finds Dumping and Subsidization of Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled into Modules from the People’s Republic of China. (ITA- 2012).

[2] The discussion of those impacts, however, is beyond the scope of this article. However, see the following Marten Law articles on this subject: J. Ferrell, Climate Change: U.S. Supreme Court Holds Federal Law Preempts Los Angeles Port Program, Marten Law Environmental News (July 1, 2013); AB 32: New Challenge Targets California Cap-and-Trade Law, Marten Law Environmental News (May 6, 2013); California Faces More Litigation over AB 32, Marten Law Environmental News (February 26, 2013); New Research Predicts the Future of California’s Carbon Market, Marten Law Environmental News (March 21, 2013); K. Haroff, California Inaugurates Country’s First Carbon Credit Auction Under Cap-and-Trade, Marten Law Environmental News (December 3, 2012); S. Brandt-Erichsen and D. Till, EPA Expected to Issue Series of New and Revised Air Rules Before Year-End, Marten Law Environmental News (November 19, 2012); S. Brandt-Erichsen and D. Till, EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations Upheld By Federal Court of Appeals, Marten Law Environmental News (June 28, 2012). 

[3] See, e.g., Renewable Energy World, Analyst: Grid-Parity Era Now Underway for Global Solar Markets (August 6, 2013).

[4] MIT Technology Review, A Price Drop for Solar Panels (May 1, 2008)

[5] Id.

[6] GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), U.S. Solar Market Insight: Report, Q1 2013 Executive Summary at 13 (GTM-2013).

[7] GTM-2013 at 11. See also Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tracking the Sun V: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 2011 (Berkeley Lab-2013).

[8] GTM-2013 at 11.

[9] Id.

[10] See Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Hawaiian Sunblock: Solar Facing Unexpected Barriers Despite Low Cost (ISLR-2012). Grid Parity in Hawaii has been helped, in large measure, by the fact that Hawaii is 83% dependent on oil for its generation: increasing prices for oil over the last several years and declining solar prices have caused the cross-over to result. Id. at 2.

[11] Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs to Finance $500 Million for SolarCity Roofs (May 16, 2013).

[12] See Bloomberg, SolarCity Loss Narrows as Rooftop Leasing Demand Grows (August 7, 2013).

[13] Id.

[14] See SEIA, Solar Means Business: Top Commercial Solar Customers in the U.S. (November, 2012).

[15] Id.

[16] National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Breakeven Prices for Photovoltaics on Supermarkets in the United States (NREL-2013).

[17] Greentech Media, Palo Alto Goes Solar, 80 Megawatts at 6.9 Cents per Kilowatt-Hour (July 1, 2013).

[18] Id.

[19] The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that it will cost 10 cents/kWh to produce electricity from a newly constructed coal-fired generating facility, 10.8 cents/kWh for advanced nuclear, 9 cents /kWh for hydro, and 8.6 cents/kWh for wind. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (January 28, 2013). See also EIA, Annual Energy Outlook 2013 with Projections to 2040 (EIA-2013).

[20] See id.

[21] Greentech Media, Macho Springs Update: First Solar to Sell Power for 5.7 Cents in New Mexico (June 5, 2013).

[22] See, e.g., Bloomberg, First Solar’s New Mexico Project May Get Less Than Coal (January 31, 2013).

[23]El Paso’s previously approved solar contracts have bundled energy and REC prices that range from $104.89 per mWh for the 24 MW SunEdison PPA to $127.45 per mWh for the 20 MW NRG PPA. Recommended Decision New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Case No. 12-00386-U at 7.

[24] See McKinsey and Co., Solar Power: Darkest Before Dawn, 3 (Mickinsey-2012).

[25] For example, polysilicon – an important material in the solar pv manufacturing process – sold for as much as $500/kg in 2008. See Greentech Media, Polysilicon Prices Head for a Steep Fall (November 13, 2008). In the first quarter of 2012 its average cost was only $30/kg, and by Q1 2013 the price had fallen even further to $17/kg. See GTM-2013 at 13.

[26] See Berkeley Lab-2013 at 23-24 (explaining that economies of scale in large projects help explain overall reductions in solar prices).

[27] See generally Berkeley Lab-2013; see also BusinessWire, Solar Panel Oversupply is a Good Thing, Says Resnick Sustainability Institute Director (February 19, 2013).

[28] MIT Technology Review, Why We Need More Solar Companies to Fail (March 18, 2013).

[29] 77 Fed. Reg. at 73017.

[30] See, e.g., New York Times, Solar Tariffs Upheld, but May Not Help in U.S. (November 7, 2012).

[31] See, e.g., id.

[32] Quartz, So Much for the Solar Trade War: China Panel Makers Set New Sales Records (August 12, 2013).

[33] Id.

[34] See Washington Post, Chinese Tariffs May Hurt U.S. Makers of Solar Cells’ Raw Material (July 23, 2013).

[35] Id. See also Bloomberg, Wacker Gains as China Scraps Polysilicon Import Duty Plan (July 29, 2013) (describing stock gains for major EU-based polysilicon maker).

[36] See, e.g., Bloomberg, EU Decides Against Anti-Subsidy Duties on Chinese Solar Panels (August 7, 2013).

[37] See Reuters, EU-China Solar Deal Hinges on Price as Deadline Nears (July 24, 2013).

[38] See People’s Daily, China Continues Polysilicon, Wine Trade Probes (August 8, 2013).

[39] Reuters, China Hits Back at EU Wine Over Solar Panel Duties (July 5, 2013).

[40] New York Times, Europe and China Agree to Settle Solar Panel Fight (July 27, 2013).

[41] See id.

[42] See, e.g., Reuters, Solyndra Bankruptcy Plan Approved Over U.S. Objections (October 22, 2012).

[43] See generally Greentech Media, Rest in Peace: The List of Deceased Solar Companies (April 6, 2013).

[44] Bloomberg, Evergreen Solar Seeks Bankruptcy With Plans to Sell Itself (August 15, 2011).

[45] Greentech Media, SpectraWatt Sequel: After Collapsing, Company Declares Bankruptcy (August 24, 2011).

[46] Forbes, Siemens Exits Solar Industry, Suffers $1 Billion In Losses (June 20, 2013).

[47] Forbes, Bosch Shuts Down Solar Business, Suffers Steep Losses (March 25, 2013).

[48] Greentech Media, SoloPower Suspends Portland Thin-Film CIGS Solar Operations, (April 24, 2013).

[49] Press Release, “SoloPower Announces Restructuring, Moving Head Office to Oregon,” SoloPower (July 10, 2013).

[50] Oregonian, SolarWorld to Lay Off 100 in Hillsboro as Chinese Manufacturers Continue Cutting Prices (July 8, 2013).

[51] Bloomberg, Solarworld Investors Approve Restructuring to Save Panel Maker (August 7, 2013).

[52] See generally Greentech Media, Rest in Peace: The List of Deceased Solar Companies (April 6, 2013).

[53] See generally Jeffrey Ball, China’s Solar-Panel Boom and Bust, Stanford Graduate School of Business (June 7, 2013).

[54] Id.

[55] See, e.g., Knowledge@Wharton, Why Is the Sun Setting on China's Solar Power Industry? (June 11, 2013).

[56] Id.

[57] See Reuters, As Solar Panels Pile Up, China Takes Axe to Polysilicon Producers (July 31, 2013).

[58] See Bloomberg, First Solar Profit Jumps 81% on Shift to Project Sales (August 1, 2012).

[59] See, e.g., Barron’s, First Solar Tumbles 13%: Look Past Sloppy Quarter, Say Bulls (August 7, 2013).

[60] Press Release, “First Solar Acquires US and Mexico Portfolio from Element Power,” First Solar (August 6, 2013).

[61] Bloomberg, AGL, First Solar to Build Australia’s Largest Solar Project (July 30, 2013).

[62] PV Magazine, First Solar Set for 1 GW of Installations in 2013 (August 12, 2013).

[63] Wall Street Journal, SunPower Swings to 2nd-Quarter Profit as Expenses Decline (July 31, 2013)

[64] Bloomberg, SunPower Making Panels at Full Speed, May Boost Capacity (July 31, 2013).

[65] Reuters, SunPower 2nd-qtr Results Top Estimates (July 31, 2013).

[66] Press Release, “Canadian Solar Completes the Sale of Brockville 1 Solar Power Facility to TransCanada,” Canadian Solar Inc. (July 2, 2013).

[67] Wall Street Journal, Canadian Solar to Sell Solar Power Plants Valued at $277 Million (August 5, 2013).

[68] McKinsey-2012 at 10.

[69] McKinsey-2012 at 4.

[70] GTM-2013 at 14.

[71] Greentech Media, 2/3rds of Global Solar PV Has Been Installed in the Last 2.5 Years (August 13, 2013).

[72] McKinsey-2012 at 6.

[73] See Renewable Energy World, Analyst: Grid-Parity Era Now Underway for Global Solar Markets (August 6, 2013).

[74] See GTM-2013 at 5.

[75] See GTM-2013 at 14; See also McKinsey-2012 at 6-8 (“Extensive use of solar as an alternative to traditional base-load generation is not likely before 2020. … [D]istributed rooftop generation is likely to be the dominant source of solar demand in [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries; distributed ground-mounted generation is likely to dominate non-OECD countries.”).

[76] See Investor’s Business Daily, SunPower Blazes Into Q2 Report As Solar Stocks No. 1 (July 30, 2013).

[77] See, e.g., New York Times, On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities (July 26, 2013).

[78] 16 U.S.C. § 2621.

[79] SEIA, Net Metering by State (last accessed September 3, 2013).

[80] See, e.g., New York Times, On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities (July 26, 2013).

[81] Id.

[82] See California Public Utilities Commission, Net Energy Metering (NEM) Cost-Benefit Study (last accessed September 3, 2013).

[83] See MIT Technology Review, How Carbon Dioxide Regs Could Actually Hurt Renewables (August 15, 2013).

[84] See Reuters, Insight: California Aims to 'Bottle Sunlight' in Energy Storage Push (August 12, 2013).

[85] See, e.g., Forbes, Solar Energy Storage About To Take Off In Germany and California (July 18, 2013).

[86] See Bloomberg, SolarCity Says Batteries Reduce Risk of Utility Backlash (June 26, 2013).

[87] See U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), SunShot Prize: Race to the Rooftops (last accessed September 3, 2013).

[88] See DOE, Finding Solutions to Solar's Soft Cost Dilemma (January 8, 2013).

[89] Clean Power Finance, Nationwide Analysis of Solar Permitting and the Implications for Soft Costs, 11 (December 2012).

[90] Id.

[91] See Environment and Energy Publishing, World Solar Prices Will Keep Dropping, But U.S. Costs Will Stay Relatively High – Report (August 15, 2013).

[92] Id.

[93] See, e.g., U.S. Department of the Treasury, Solar Energy Investment Tax Credits and Grants.

[94] See Environment and Energy Publishing, World Solar Prices Will Keep Dropping, But U.S. Costs Will Stay Relatively High – Report (August 15, 2013). NREL calculates that while under current state and federal tax incentives up to 53% of the nation’s supermarkets are located in areas where the price of solar energy is equal to or lesser than the price of electricity from the grid, this number plummets when current credits are taken out of the equation. See NREL-2013 at iv-v. Others, however, have a more bullish perspective. See, e.g., RenewEconomy, Deutsche Bank Says US Solar Boom to Reach 50gW by 2016 (September 4, 2013).

[95] See, e.g., Press Release, “Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems Selected to Lead US Department of Energy Sunshot Project,” Fraunhofer (December 12, 2012); see also DOE, SunShot Prize: Race to the Rooftops (last accessed September 3, 2013) (offering up to $10 million prize offered for those who can repeatedly demonstrate non-hardware costs of $1/W).

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