For the past few years, most analysts have predicted Brazil would become a leading force for solar in Latin America. Until October 2014, however, the market failed to mature as most observers thought it would.

The primary obstacle was, as it is in other countries, financing.

In the residential market, the government instituted a net-metering program — a billing mechanism that credits solar-energy-system owners for the electricity they add to the grid — in 2012. In other countries, net-metering has driven some of the most successful solar markets, including the United... Read More

The ink is almost dry on your solar system purchase and installation contract, and now one crucial element remains: making sure your system remains in tip-top condition throughout its lifetime. Like any other technology, solar power generation systems of every size need periodic attention ranging from simple (but critical) cleaning to sophisticated, troubleshooting know-how that stops potential problems in their tracks. That’s where the operations and maintenance (O&M) contractor comes in.

Whether your solar manufacturer provides ongoing maintenance as part of its service, or... Read More

Canada has long been a perplexing market. Solar growth in Ontario has been spectacular, but the other nine provinces in the country have been slow to adapt.

There are a few factors affecting solar growth outside of Ontario:

•Low electricity prices. Outside of Ontario, electricity prices remain so low there is no incentive to bring solar into the power-production mix. Without governmental subsidies, solar often doesn’t make financial sense.

•Low oil and gas prices. While the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline rages in the United States, Canadian provinces can’t... Read More

In Central and South America, solar growth is on a trajectory never before seen anywhere in the world, which is particularly surprising because of the region’s previous dependency on coal, hydro and thermal electricity generation.

Solar power production is increasing at a rate throughout the region of 187% (with expected growth in Central America expected to be more than 100% for at least the next 24 months) — and that is happening, by and large, without any appreciable subsidies about which to speak.

Panama and Chile are the early leaders because of their easily bankable... Read More

Farmers across the country — from New York dairy farmers to the Central Valley of California — are joining the solar revolution.

To many, this movement is surprising. In general, farmers are a conservative group. When they are successful, they are reluctant to change because financial margins for farms are often tight. One wrong decision can be the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

Most farmers would rather die than give up land to something that doesn’t produce. For those farmers, solar is the perfect fit. On average, California farmers are currently saving on... Read More

So you’ve decided it’s time for your company to jump on the solar energy bandwagon and take advantage of the many savings, benefits, and incentives available for commercial solar projects. Like most businesses, you will probably want to finance your project but may be wary of approaching lending institutions because of less-than-stellar credit. That’s a realistic concern — even in today’s more liberal lending environment, financial institutions are reluctant to fund a project for a company with a tarnished credit record.

How can you secure financing despite a difficult credit... Read More

The solar industry, more than any other, is driven by policy decisions made at national and state levels. Sometimes the decisions appear arbitrary to outsiders, but all policy decisions are calculated to bring the most credit to those creating them.

Here are the three most important ideas we have to get across to legislators across the country and in Washington, D.C.:

Solar is no longer a niche energy supply. Germany, whose insolation levels are half what they are in most states, generated more than 50% of its energy from solar on June 9, 2014. Prices of solar... Read More

When you talk to most solar industry experts about which states are up-and-coming markets, you will often get a variety of answers. But one state all the experts seem to see as the next big solar market is North Carolina. Consider:

– The state has more than 161 solar companies operating within its borders, employing 3,100 people.

– In 2013, $787 million was invested in North Carolina to install solar for home, business and utility use — a 156% increase over the previous year.

– North Carolina installed the third-highest MW of solar in 2013, and has the... Read More