Will Solar Energy Plummet if the Investment Tax Credit Fades Away? Many solar supporters say the loss or reduction of the credit will be a ‘cliff’ for the industry. But others say the credit’s impact is overstated and solar will continue to grow.
Amit Ronen and John Farrell, November 15, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)
[Ronen:] "… without congressional leadership, the credit will expire for consumer-owned systems and shrink for commercially owned systems at the end of 2016. When it goes, it will have a dramatic effect on the industry—and economy…Can the solar industry survive without the current credit? Yes, but not as we know it today…The credit has proved an essential financing mechanism to getting solar built, even though some projects rely on complex tax-equity markets to monetize the credit…"
[Farrell:] "…[Third-party leases or power-purchase contracts] took on much of the financial risk and the responsibility for redeeming the 30% tax credit…and as a result, solar developers and customers have received an effective discount of 15% instead of 30%. So the current incentive isn’t as big as it looks, and the effect of losing the incentive won’t be as severe as many think…If the change in the tax credit opens the door to more sizable, low-margin investors that offer a discounted cost of debt and equity for solar projects, we estimate that the net cost of solar would rise just 2.5%...A November 2014 pro forma analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory suggests that self-financing lowers the cost of solar by 23% for residential customers and 87% for commercial customers…[Assuming] a 30% cut in the growth potential for solar energy…[ignores] countervailing forces…” click here for more