January 2016 issue: Business tips, impact of snowfall, CIGS and more

In this issue:

Inverters and storage Q&A, plus smart inverters coming to a utility near you

CIGS: Solar’s black sheep finding its feet

This non-penetrating system could change the industry

Maximizing your microgrid

Managing the performance impact of snowfall

Tips from experts on growing your solar business

The magnitude of the solar ITC extension

Let’s be clear: Had the sun set on the solar ITC,our industry would have survived, albeit with less impressive growth domestically. Supported by innovative thinking, global markets,consumer demand and proven returns with minimal risk—and much else—solar energy is an unstoppable force worldwide.But the expiration of tax incentives would have hurt, and it would have afflicted our readership particularly. Each year, we publish the Top 500 Solar Contractors list, and the majority of companies appearing are residential and commercial installers, all from North America. They represent our readership. While the true fallout from an ITC loss has been debated, most experts agree it would have cost many thousands of jobs. Our greatest concern, not as an editorial team but as people, was that these companies we’ve come to know and admire—from our Top 500 list,from our Contractors Corner podcast series, from our numerous project stories and case studies—would be at risk. The people of solar are optimistic—some, we’d say, to a fault—and most are in this business not only to make a buck, but also because they care about the environment and the future effects of climate change.

Much of our readership has given solar their all—all their time, money, trust, emotion—and as a result of consistent hard work, the technology is on the cusp of wide-scale adoption, grid-parity, full-on market acceptance. We’re being led there by innovations in software, financing and power management; growing relationships between municipalities, utilities and industry; continuing progress in panel efficiency, inverter reliability and mounting technology. The price of solar has dropped every year. It would have been insane to come this far and voluntarily give up a major Steven Bushongindustry driver, the ITC. But solar technology is proven, and the benefits it provides—economic and environmental—cannot be ignored. That’s why members of Congress from across the political spectrum voted to extend the ITC in December, ensuring continued growth for the U.S. solar industry. When the votes came through the House and then the Senate, we at SPW couldn’t help but throw a little party. We were relieved and ecstatic!

This news is immense, as is our gratitude for all of the people who worked so hard to secure the ITC extension and the excitement we feel for the companies comprising the solar industry. We hope that everyone in this industry feels a little lighter because, thankfully, the solar industry has never been brighter.