The global solar energy market was valued at $86 billion in 2015, and is projected to reach $422 billion by 2022, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24.2% from 2016 to 2022. The growth of the solar energy market is driven by increase in environmental pollution and provision of government incentives & tax rebates to install solar panels.
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2016 was a banner year for most aspects of the U.S. solar industry, perhaps none as meaningfully as for solar serving low-income communities. Multiple states enacted policies expanding solar access could pave the way for new capacity, lower utility bills for underserved communities in 2017 and beyond.
The solar industry and policymakers can build on policies and programs underpinning the general market to benefit their most energy-burdened residents. Falling costs, industry support create momentum Solar costs have fallen more than 80% since 2009, with rooftop solar declining 26% just in 2016. Also, the solar industry is placing increased emphasis on reaching low-income communities for expanded energy access and workforce development opportunities.
Solar growth among low-income communities could generate new demand for solar projects and create economic benefits for families. 49.1 million U.S. households (40% of all homes) earning less than $40,000 per year account for less than 5% of all solar installations.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has supported low-income efforts, and new SEIA President Abigail Ross Hopper listed opening access to solar for low-income consumers as one of her top three priorities at a press briefing in January.