Top 50 Solar Energy Stories Of 2013 (So Far): Part 5 (#41–50)

We’re trying to get more solar energy stories going here on Planetsave. To catch readers up, I’m doing a short series on the top 50 solar energy stories of 2013 so far. Learning from the Top 33 EV Stories article I recently published, I’m splitting this one into 5 posts. Otherwise, the page would take forever to load. Plus, it’s easier to swallow 10 at a time.

It’s pretty hard to actually rank these top 50 articles, so I didn’t even try. The list is in no particular order. The numbers are basically just for referring people (your friends, family, coworkers, etc) to specific stories you think are worth highlighting. Don’t forget to do that! Once the posts are up, I will add links here:

Here are 41–50:

41. Solar Leasing Continues To Boom

Photo credit: GRID Alternatives
Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives

Having home solar panels installed by leasing them from third parties has grown like wildfire in the US, particularly in states with their own government incentive programs. On February 13, Sunrun, a pioneer in third-party solar leasing, and solar photovoltaic (PV) market data provider PV Solar Report, announced that third-party-owned solar pumped more than $938 million into California’s economy in 2012, a record-high annual amount equal to that of all the previous five years combined.

Third-party solar energy system leases now account for nearly three-quarters (74%) of California’s residential solar market, according to Sunrun and PV Solar. A market research report released last August revealed that solar leasing had added more than $1 billion to California’s economy since being introduced in 2007.

42. Study Delves Into Why German Solar Is 1/2 The Price Of US Solar

us vs germany soft costs solar

The whole “Why is German solar about half the price of U.S. solar?” question is one of the most important solar questions of the day. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has probably most extensively studied this matter. In a recently updated version of its analysis, LBNL examines why a residential German solar system goes for $3.00/watt and a residential U.S. solar system goes for $6.19/watt.

As no surprise to anyone who follows this matter, LBNL still concludes that the massive price differences above are basically due to soft costs. But the updated study also digs into the reasons why the soft costs are (or might be) so much lower. As LBNL rightly noted, relatively little has been known about how or why various soft cost differ.

43. Value of Distributed Solar Power & Value Of Solar Tariffs Get Attention


Simply looking at the price of solar panels or solar power systems — and how that compares with the prices of other options — is not really the best way to evaluate whether or not we (individuals, companies, cities, societies) should go solar. The full costs and benefits should be examined. Unfortunately, a lot of the benefits have been ignored for a long time (and far beyond the environmental and climate benefits). Evaluating the “value of solar” has begun to catch on, and some cities are actually implementing “Value of Solar Tariffs,” but sometimes coming to wildly different conclusions. Have a look at a few recent stories about this:

44. Chile Becomes A Big Solar Name

Solar Markets in Latin America and Caribbean set to boom
Image Credit: NPD Solarbuzz, Emerging PV Markets Report: Latin America & Caribbean

Chile, which has a pretty wonderful geographical position for taking advantage of the sun, is expected to add 2.2 GW of new solar power capacity within the next 15 years. Given its size, that’s pretty considerable. Chile has become a clear Latin American solar leader, and a prime new market for solar power companies. I mean, just check out the pie chart above from NPD Solarbuzz. (Note: Chile currently has 3.1 GW of approved solar power projects in the pipeline, but the assumption is apparently that not all of those will be built.)

45. Solar Energy Drives German & French Power Prices To Record Lows

We’ve many times covered the way solar and wind energy drive down wholesale power prices. For some background pieces on that, check out our Merit Order Effect category. But Andrew Burger’s piece above was definitely worthy of note in this top 50 solar stories series.

46. World’s First Renewable Energy Resources Atlas Goes Online

In an effort to raise the awareness of just how much potential our planet has to produce renewable energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has launched the first ever online Global Atlas of renewable energy resources.

47. Interactive US Solar Grid Parity Map Launched

Within a decade, 300,000 megawatts of unsubsidized local solar power could compete with utility electricity prices in almost every state, enough clean energy to produce 10% of U.S. electricity. Grid parity is building like a relentless wave, but how much solar is at parity today? In 2016? In 2020? On homes or businesses?  With incentives or without?

Answer all of these questions with the Greatest, Most Interactive U.S. Solar Grid Parity Map from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

48. California Achieves 1,000 MW Installed Capacity Under Solar Initiative

Image Credit: Solar power plant in California via Shutterstock
Image Credit: Solar power plant in California via Shutterstock

“California achieved a major milestone when it crossed 1 GW of installed solar power capacity through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) recently. The initiative accounts for about 50% of the total solar power capacity installed in California.”

49. Solar + EVs = Everyone’s Doin’ It!


I know, that title didn’t make sense. But I think you got the point. You probably noticed #14 on this list, that 39% of California electric vehicle owners have solar power systems. But this second-to-last item goes a bit further. It gets into some major partnerships that have helped create that stat, as well as ones that have come together because of the synergy between solar power and electric vehicles. Here are a handful of the stories to which I’m referring:

There are also the cool EV-to-grid smart grid projects, like this pilot project between Honda and UC Davis.

50. (Some) Big Media Continues To Flub The Solar Story

Ahem, Fox & Spiegel….

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