Brad Plumer for VOX: Rooftop solar is expanding rapidly in the United States — by some estimates, a new system goes up every four minutes. There are plenty of reasons for that, from falling prices to generous federal subsidies to innovative leasing schemes.
But there's another, little-discussed factor here: Residential solar power is contagious. Yep, contagious. Studies have found that if you install solar photovoltaic panels on your roof, that increases the odds that your neighbors will install their own panels.
SolarCity, the largest solar installer in the United States, just published some fascinating data on this "contagion" effect. The company has installed 230,000 rooftop systems nationwide (often by allowing customers to lease panels rather than buy them upfront). It says fully one-third of customers were referred by a friend or neighbor.
SolarCity has also made some neat animations showing the "contagion" effect in action. View here:
By Daniel J. Graeber for UPI.com: Small-scale solar installations in the United States account for about a third of the overall capacity on the grid, a report from the federal government said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates total U.S. solar-power output in September, the last full month for which data are available, at 3.5 million megawatt hours. Of that, just more than 30 percent came from small-scale solar installations.
"Generation from roof-top photovoltaic systems has become an increasingly important part of total solar generation in the United States," EIA AdministratorAdam Sieminski said in an emailed statement.
A September report from the Solar Energy Industries Association, with support from green energy market adviser GTM Research, found second quarter residential solar capacity grew 70 percent year-on-year to 473 megawatts. Cont'd...
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