April 30th, 2016 by Cynthia Shahan
EnergySage has reported that in the sometimes larger-than-life Lone Star State, Texas, solar prices are now the lowest price per watt in the country, but the market has not taken advantage of these low solar prices to a large extent yet.
A post on Greentech Media (GTM) highlighted the data from Energy Sage, a website that leads the way in comparison shopping for solar systems.
Katherine Tweed for GTM notes that an average gross cost of a solar energy system is down to $3.21 per watt in Texas — this cost is lower than the national average of $3.69 per watt, according to EnergySage’s Second Solar Marketplace Intel Report. “In the Southwest region, including Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, three-quarters of the quotes were below $3.50 per watt.”
However, even with this low cost of solar in the state, the report continues, a 9-year payback period in Texas is a bit higher than the national average of just over 8 years.
With the “unparalleled data set“ EnergySage “collects over 1 million data points per day regarding the market dynamics of the US solar industry.”
So, what is the issue in Texas, where the utility-scale side of the Texan solar market often findsthe cheapest solar bid solicitations in the world?
There is stagnation, or worse, with the distributed solar market in Texas, according to GTM, because of low natural gas prices — as well as “the lack of net metering in the deregulated market structure.”
The sunshiny news across the country, though, is that solar prices keep falling. The shift is moving to owning systems rather than leasing as a result.
The trend of owning systems is more pronounced with EnergySage shoppers than it is with customers who choose SolarCity, the leading residential solar installer, which is not a participant in the EnergySage platform and is also known for considerably higher prices than the average.
GTM reports that 90% or more of EnergySage customers prefer ownership, “though customer-owned systems constitute less than 40 percent of the national market.”
Things are shifting even at SolarCity, as the company moves towards “a new, simplified loan product that should push the national average of customer-owned systems higher.” We’ll see how that goes (the previous loan had some pretty notable flaws/downsides), and let you know.