Market Analysis Insights

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Tapping Underserved Solar Markets: Can We Extend Solar Deployment into Customer Sectors with Lower or No Credit?

Distributed solar deployment is often a game of off-taker credit. That is, behind-the-meter project success depends largely on whether the end-use customer has credit sufficient to support a long-term power contract or lease.

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Where is All the Utility Investment? Are Utilities Missing an Opportunity to Finance Solar and Storage?

It's an exciting time for the solar industry. Deployment is up sharply—photovoltaics (PV) alone have seen 73% annual growth, on average, from 2000 through 2012, and costs are down dramatically over that same period [1].

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

The LCOE Impact of Public Capital Vehicles

Improving the availability of capital to renewable energy (RE) projects represents a critical component to lowering the overall cost and scaling the adoption of RE technologies. Public capital—investment raised in the financial markets through securitized instruments and pooled investment vehicles—is a potential means of achieving these goals.

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

A Transition to a Securitized Market? Perhaps Credit Enhancements Offer an Opportunity to Leverage Market Investment

How does the solar industry transition from the current project-based financing structure to one where more capital is available at faster speed and lower cost [1]? That was the question discussed by various industry stakeholders in a recent meeting of the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group convened by NREL. The answer the industry seeks might lie in public capital vehicles, such as asset-backed securities, master limited partnerships, and other mechanisms designed to pool projects and allow investment via a liquid, tradable product.  These vehicles could increase the availability of capital because they represent a simpler and lower-cost mechanism for investors, such as pension and insurance funds, to commit capital to solar projects [2].

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Recapture Rapture: Can Revised Tax Credit Policies Attract More Capital to Solar?

For developers trying to monetize the federal tax benefits for a given project, finding a tax equity partner can be a lonely process. Tax equity investors consist of a limited pool of suitors—investment bankers and a few other firms—who can tolerate the array of risks associated with this type of investment, including:

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Who Needs Third-Party Finance? Loan Programs Offer Low-Cost Direct Ownership Opportunities

Direct ownership of solar systems offers an array of benefits generally not available to third-party finance. And new loan programs are making it easier to achieve that goal.

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Does RPS Still Gun the Engines?

Renewable energy deployment has increased in recent years thanks to two primary turbo chargers: federal tax policies that incentivize investment and state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that require utilities to procure increasing amounts of renewable energy to serve their load obligations [1].

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

How Do We Lower Solar Installation Costs and Open the Market to Securitized Portfolios: Standardize and Harmonize

Soft costs can be pretty tough. The cost of solar installations can be generally separated into "hard" costs — representing primary components such as modules, racking, inverters — and soft costs including legal, permitting, and financing.

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

A better (more cost effective) mousetrap? How much do U.S. tax benefits cost per kWh of solar production?

I frequently wonder: what is the cost to the taxpayer/ratepayer of the various benefits (federal, state, utility) bestowed on renewable energy projects, and is there a more cost-effective way to support these fledgling technologies? Also, how do U.S.

Michael Mendelsohn's picture

Where Did All the Solar Go? Calculating Total U.S. Solar Energy Production

Good data can be hard to come by. Let's take solar production data. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), solar electricity production facilities— including photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) — produced a total of roughly 1,800 GWh in 2011 [1].