Report finds lease schemes big drivers of US PV growth

The report, which looks at energy trends in the U.S. and in China, considers business and government-driven trends within the changing energy dynamics in both nations. The two countries collaborate in some bi-lateral renewable energy and sustainability forums.

In terms of the photovoltaic industry, the major outcomes of the "summer" report come in the form of observations about the growth of solar lease schemes in the U.S. Now worth as much as 50 percent of all residential solar systems nationwide, the contracts are known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

Solar lease schemes utilize the PPAs which generally require the homeowner to purchase the photovoltaic electricity produced on their roof for a set period from the lease provider, which funds the initial purchase of the photovoltaic modules and installation.

The most prominent companies, observes the report, are Sungevity, SolarCity and SunRun with the latter claiming to fund one million dollars worth of installations per day.

While generally restricted to the states with government incentives supporting photovoltaic installations, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that with falling installation and module prices and rising utility bills, by 2015 two-thirds of Americans would save money on a PPA scheme.

In analyzing these "third party schemes", the ACORE co-authored report attributes some of their success in stemming from initiatives to promote "New Business Models" in the renewable sector, as encouraged by then Californian Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006.

In conclusion, the report states that: "Contrary to general sentiment regarding the U.S. economy, it is an exciting time to be delivering solar electricity to middle Americans."

Solar lease programs require funding to continue and ACORE see new residential photovoltaic private capital funds as being exciting trends in the industry. Citigroup has already completed to USD$100 million investments into lease providers and others a likely to follow suit.