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TL;DR: An overview of 2023’s solar industry macro trends

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As we approach the final days of the year, it’s a timely opportunity to reflect on the trends that shaped the solar industry in 2023.

Throughout December, we’ll be highlighting some of the year’s biggest themes and takeaways, by way of our favorite thought-provoking pieces. To start, we’re zooming out to see the bigger picture: the macro trends influencing the pace and performance of the solar industry, and what they can teach us for 2024.

Inflation or nah? 

We’ve all been living with inflation, supply chain issues, and high interest rates for a few years now — a familiar trend that is still very much top of mind for potential solar customers. While inflation is on the decline, it’s still above pre-pandemic levels. A lesser-discussed trend is that despite these external challenges, solar panel prices are continuing to fall. Not only that, they’re continuing to increase in quality. 

TL;DR: Better panels, lower prices.

Learn more from Yale Climate Connections

The sun is setting on the fossil fuel era.

“Peak” fossil fuel

Raise your hand if you feel like you’ve been hearing about “peak fossil fuel” use for decades [raises hand]. Well the wait may finally be over, thanks to the perfect confluence of cheaper panels, intentional policy, and public support. 

TL;DR: A peak, a plateau, and then downhill for fossil fuels. 

Learn more from the New York Times

All electric everything

Of course, to get to (and past) peak fossil fuel, we need to intentionally electrify, well, everything. That means fossil-fuel-free cars, home heating systems, kitchen appliances, and more. The whole home electrification movement took a huge step forward in 2023, but is it just us in the renewable energy business that are interested? Increasingly, studies say it’s not.

TL;DR: Electric is the new black.

Learn more from the Yale Program on Climate Communication

Electric cars are kicking into overdrive.

VPPs are AOK

For renewables like solar to power this whole electrification revolution (“Electrification Revolution” t-shirts coming soon), we need to smooth out the time lag between energy production (when the sun is shining) and heavy energy use (often after the sun goes down).

As we see during winter and summer blackouts, we need reliable power sources to supplement the grid when demand is high. We need to build more utility-scale solar, yes, but we can also put those residential panels and batteries to work as virtual power plants (VPPs). But what’s involved? Glad you asked…

TL;DR: I am the power plant.

Learn more from the Aurora blog

The IRA stays winning

While this landmark legislation passed in 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), still looms large over the solar industry. It’s a main driver of the whole home electrification trends above, and gives real certainty to the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and other incentives. But homeowners still have questions, especially when it comes to ROI. 

TL;DR: A great, printable resource.

Learn more from Rewiring America

Behind the latest acronyms, studies, polls, and policies is the underlying theme that solar is here to stay — and to grow. Stay tuned for more of our year-end reflections, and what they mean for the year ahead. 

In the meantime, looking to investigate how these trends, and more, will shape the solar industry in 2024? You’re in luck. Register for our webinar with Solar Power World, Risks & Opportunities for Solar in 2024, on December 7 to get strategies you can start implementing today to make sure you’re prepared for the new year.

Click the image to learn more and register for the webinar.


Power plant photo by Alexander Tsang

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