What an exciting time for solar - and for me to enter my new role as editor of Solar Industry magazine. As you all likely know by now, U.S. Congress passed a five-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC), one of the country’s key incentives for solar, at the end of 2015.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the December vote historic and predicted that the extension will result in thousands of new jobs and over $130 billion in U.S. private-sector investment by 2020.

When the omnibus bill first passed, a colleague sent over a Bloomberg Business report with a paragraph that floored me: Citing preliminary Bloomberg New Energy Finance data, the report said, “The extension will add an extra 20 GW of solar power - more than every panel ever installed in the U.S. prior to 2015.”

“The U.S. was already one of the world’s biggest clean energy investors,” the report continued. “This deal is like adding another America of solar power into the mix.”


Notably, the folks over at research firm IHS said in a press release that the extension “is not just good news for the U.S. solar market, but is a net positive for the global solar industry as a whole.”

Developers, meanwhile, also lauded the legislation, saying the ITC extension will provide more predictability and lead to more projects.

In a release, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive stated, “[L]ong-term certainty for the ITC sends a strong signal to the marketplace that investment in clean energy is the right way to drive continued economic growth and job creation.”

John Billingsley, chairman and CEO at wind and solar developer Tri Global Energy, declared the extensions of the ITC and wind production tax credit “a game-changer.”

The ITC extension was just the latest in a series of encouraging policy wins for solar.

At the recent COP21 summit in Paris, city, state and federal officials from around the world pledged to combat climate change and limit their greenhouse-gas emissions. Although the resultant agreements appear vague at best, you can bet they will lead to increased renewable energy research and development.

Speaking of safe bets, how about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP)? Sure, a host of states has entered legal battles over the plan, which mandates cutting carbon pollution from U.S. power plants, but that was expected since day one of the proposal. Ultimately, the CPP will result in a sizable boost for solar power.

This isn’t to say there aren’t still myriad challenges ahead for the solar industry, though. For example, some legislators remain determined to do away with their states’ renewable portfolio standards, and it seems net metering will always be a hot topic of debate.

Nonetheless, I have high hopes. Solar has a huge group of proponents, and the technology continues to advance. I’ve been a part of the Solar Industry magazine team for over five years now, and I look forward to seeing - and reporting - what the future holds for this promising sector.














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