This week we saw announcements of significant cost savings for SolarCity, a major advanced energy investment from Citigroup, and a move into Mexico for Pattern Energy. So, costs are down, investment is up, and AEE members are taking their influence worldwide. Bottom line: It’s a good time to be in advanced energy.
The cost of installing solar continues to fall. On AEE Member SolarCity’s quarterly earnings call, CEO Lyndon Rive announced that the installation cost of the company’s technology had been lowered by 20 percent per unit. The cost per watt is $2.09 for installation, $2.86 per watt in total. With module costs down dramatically over the past few years, installation and other non-hardware costs have become the focus for greater competitiveness, and SolarCity is one of the companies that has taken the challenge head on.
This announcement is in line with a trend we’ve been tracking across the country: the cost of advanced energy is steadily falling, while the cost of non-advanced energy resources remains volatile. Residential solar has reached “socket parity” with power from the grid in many states, due in no small part to the decreased costs and increased efficiencies of companies like SolarCity.
In SolarCity’s case, costs fallen by nearly half in only three years. In 2012, the cost of installing solar was $3.97 per watt. SolarCity’s installed cost has continued to come down, despite what Rive described as “roughly flat” pricing of solar modules over the past year or so.
Other key announcements from the call: SolarCity has deployed 1.1 GW of solar capacity as of year-end 2014, and expects to install another gigawatt in 2015. While demand for commercial projects remains “lumpy and unpredictable,” demand for residential solar remains strong, SolarCity told analysts.
Citigroup, the third largest financial institution in the U.S., announced this week that it plans to invest $100 billion in advanced energy over the next decade. The money is earmarked for advanced energy initiatives, including renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as upgrading the efficiency of Citigroup’s own operations and facilities.
In 2007, the company made a similar announcement, earmarking $50 billion for advanced energy projects.
Finally, this week AEE member company Pattern Energy announced that it had partnered with Mexican firm CEMEX Energia to bring more than 1 GW of wind power to Mexico by 2020. This is Pattern’s first move into Mexico, which CEO Mike Garland described as “a natural expansion market due to our development headquarters in Houston and our team’s experience in developing over 1,000 megawatts of wind projects in California, New Mexico and Texas.”
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Photo courtesy of SolarCity.