US market for »plug and play« solar panels is about 57 GW, says a MTU study
Post date: 06/12/2016 - 16:37
A new study from Michigan Technological University shows »a huge US market for plug and play solar energy«, with an estimated 57 GW of renewable energy – enough to power the cities of New York and Detroit – and potentially $14.3 to $71.7 billion in sales for retailers and $13 billion a year in cost savings for energy users.
Between 2009 and 2014 solar PV module prices have declined by about 75 percent. As homeowners can install the systems themselves, the installation cost of the plug and play PV module includes only the capital cost of the hardware, as module, microinverter and cable. Other factors that normally accompany PV installations such as labor costs, electrical BOS costs, structural BOS costs, engineering, permitting, inspection, and interconnection cost are excluded.
In many parts of the United States, electrical regulations don’t allow consumers to plug and play. A patchwork of local jurisdictions and regulations make it difficult to figure out if and where plug and play panels are allowed. »You can buy the panels,« says the author Joshua Pearce, »but you might not be able to plug them in, depending on your utility.« But the combination of recent technical/safety analysis and trends in other advanced industrialized nations indicate that U.S. electrical regulations may allow plug and play solar in the future, says the report. »Such a shift in regulations could radically alter the current PV market.«
Conclusion of the study: »For available costs, plug and play PV systems are economic throughout the U.S. already.« If legalized, such a mass deployment of distributed PV systems would generate over 100,000 thousand MWh per year, »which is roughly four times the electricity generated from solar in the U.S. in 2015.«
In a paper published earlier this year, Pearce and colleagues reviewed all regulations in the US that would apply to plug and play systems. According to an announcement, »they found no safety or technical issues with the equipment on the market.«