Retailers look to cash in as solar power prices plunge
According to a recent New York Times article written by Nancy Folbre, professor emerita of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the price of solar panels has dropped some 60 percent over the past three years and the cost of producing solar energy is now as cheap, if not cheaper, than the cost of energy from nuclear power plants. So while renewable energy has had its critics, it appears that solar is becoming “a powerful environmental and economic success story.”
While 62 percent of American homeowners are interested in solar power for their residences, fewer than half realize that products have become much more affordable, according to SolarCity, the largest provider of residential solar systems in the U.S. Today, there are fewer than half a million household rooftops with photovoltaic installations, leaving about 74.5 million residential opportunities in the U.S.
Home improvement retailers were among the first to see the potential of solar. Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards all sell solar panels and offer access to installation services online and in stores.
Yesterday, Best Buy became the first large consumer electronics chain to get into selling solar with an announcement that SolarCity would offer its services at 60 of the retailer’s locations in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon.
As a special promotion, SolarCity will give new customers it picks up through Best Buy a $100 gift card valid on any purchase made in the store.
- The Red Faces of the Solar Skeptics – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
- SolarCity to Offer Solar Power in Select Best Buy Stores – SolarCity Blog
- Solar on sale, almost anywhere – U-T San Diego
Do you see the residential market for solar power opening up in the next several years? What are the keys to success for retailers looking to take advantage of the solar opportunity going forward?