Week in Review: Solar Decathlon Shows Tomorrow’s Homes While Solar Forges Ahead

Solar Decathlon overview

an overview of the Soar Decathlon. Courtesy DOE.Last week, one of the most prominent solar events, the biennial Solar Decathlon, was in full swing, showing a glimpse of what tomorrows practical solar homes could look like. Reports also indicate that the solar industry is continuing steady growth into the fall with the announcement of new deals, stronger investments and new policies.

The Solar Decathlon was in full swing last week  in Great Park, Irvine, Calif., with 19 solar-powered homes putting the excess back on the grid. As of last Thursday (Oct. 10), the homes had produced a total of 4,672 kilowatt hours of electricity since going live on Oct. 2. This was about 1,200 kilowatt hours more than the homes needed at that point, demonstrating how much energy can be saved through energy efficiency iniatitives and solar power in comparison to grid supplied power.

Outside of the decathlon, the solar industry was abuzz as well. SolarCity announced that it plans to purchase Zep Solar, a company that makes mounts for PV arrays, for approximately $158 million. It’s also the second solar company that SolarCity has purchased in the past two months.

SolarCity isn't the only company making these types of moves, however. The recently released Mercom Capital Group Q3 2013 Solar Funding and M&A Report observed an uptick in investments, venture capital and mergers & acquisitions in the solar sector. Overall, the report found that the sector raised $2.18 billion in investments and that another $9.8 billion was spent in merger & acquisitions (M&A) during Q3, the latest sign that the solar market is resurgent.

The 280 megawatt Solana project also attracted a significant investment, right around the time that it started operating at full capacity. The $2 billion project near Gila Bend, Ariz., received a $300 million investment from Liberty Interactive.

In the nation’s most populous and solar-friendly state, new legislation was passed into law with the stroke of Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) pen. The new law, AB 327, introduces sweeping changes to California’s energy infrastructure, as well as how it bills customers. The legislation also provides for net metering for years to come. The law leaves some weary, since it is still somewhat controversial; not to mention, the state’s energy commission still has a lot to decide.  Fortunately, it does help stabilize the future of solar in the state as it moves away from less incentives.

Over in India, the second most populous country in the world, solars future is getting a bit more illuminated. The country announced a new project, and it’s a whopper—the 4 gigawatt Sambhar Ultra-Mega Green Solar Power Project. The project is part of the country’s larger solar ambitions, which is to install 10 gigawatts of solar energy by 2017 and 20 gigawatts of solar by 2022.

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