German Coalition Government Pledges More Renewables, Hedges on Faster Coal Exit

An agreement reached by Germany’s new three-way coalition of the Social Democratic (SDP), Green, and Free Democratic (FDP) parties commits to phase out coal earlier than previously planned and increase the country’s renewable energy capacity.

“They have agreed to double Germany’s solar target to 200 gigawatts by 2030, increase the country’s renewables target to 80% of electricity demand by 2030, up from 65%, and bring forward the coal phaseout date from 2038 to 2030,” reports the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. 

The new coalition will also set out to increase hydrogen investments, make Germany’s heating supply carbon neutral by 2030, and ensure stability of gas and coal supply as “renewable capacity ramps up.”

A 2030 coal phaseout, in particular, is essential to meeting the country’s climate targets, says the European Environmental Bureau. But the new German government will also need to facilitate investments totalling €860 billion by 2030 to reach its goals, with emphasis on retrofitting and upgrading infrastructure, expanding renewable resources, and “building new gas-fired power plants that can eventually operate fully on renewables-based green hydrogen,” writes Clean Energy Wire.

Agreeing on expenses and funding sources is critical for the coalition to successfully carry out its goals. This is the first time Germany will be governed by a coalition of three parties, each of which has support from different social and economic groups. Negotiations leading up to the coalition agreement were complicated, “as each party [had] to keep the interests of its own core supporter groups in mind, striking a balance between the demands of voters hoping for more ambitious climate action policies by the Greens, workers from low-income households hoping for support by the SPD, and high-wage earners and businesses betting on the FDP,” Clean Energy Wire adds.

The agreement was finalized this morning by a formal vote in the Bundestag, with the coalition led by the SDP’s Olaf Scholz, who served as finance minister to now-former chancellor Angela Merkel. The coalition is not expected to deviate far from past policy, but the SDP’s intentions to strengthen the Greens’ environmental policies are creating tension with the FDP’s “aversion to tax hikes,” writes the Washington Post.

Critically, FDP leader Christian Lindner will become the new finance minister, indicating that the FDP’s fiscal preferences “are likely to shape the new government’s monetary policy more than those of the Greens, after Scholz announced debt rules would not be relaxed,” says The Guardian.

Instead of working towards climate goals by raising taxes, the FDP would rather abolish outdated and often climate-damaging subsidies for individual industries. Recent estimates placed those subsidies at €65 billion per year, Clean Energy Wire states.

With Germany’s climate targets already among the most ambitious in the world, the Green Party made several concessions in the agreement, including a compromise to accelerate construction of gas-fired power plants to ease the transition away from coal, reports Bloomberg Green.

The parties say that “all sectors will have to contribute” on further climate legislation. Many of the deadlines for the coalition’s ambitious targets are set in 2030, just nine years away, and will require substantial investment and political will. The target for phasing out coal is particularly contentious and has been a national issue for years, with Germany still relying on the dirtiest fossil fuel for a quarter of its electricity, says Bloomberg.

Experts at the ClientEarth environmental law charity note that the text of the agreement weakens the commitment by saying that Germany will “ideally” phase out coal by 2030. The deal also includes a caveat that the goal will only be completed if the energy supply is secure.

“While it is a relief to see a stated intention for a 2030 phaseout, it’s not a breakthrough – it’s just an official recognition of economic and climate realities,” said Hermann Ott, head of ClientEarth’s Berlin office. “The real question now is if our new governing coalition truly will put in place the right legal rules and economic incentives to make sure we reduce overall energy consumption and can power Germany without sacrificing the planet.”

Community Solar ‘Blesses Families’ with Lower Energy Costs, Minneapolis Bishop Proclaims

Strolling his church’s rooftop among 630 solar panels, Bishop Richard Howell Jr. of north Minneapolis acknowledged climate change isn’t the most pressing concern for his predominantly Black congregation—even though it disproportionately harms people of colour and the poor.

“The violence we’re having, shootings, killings, COVID-19,” Howell said wearily. “You’re trying to save families, and right now no one’s really talking about global warming.”

Yet his Shiloh Temple International Ministries welcomed the opportunity to become one of many community solar providers popping up around the U.S. amid surging demand for renewable energy, The Associated Press reports.

Larger than home rooftop systems but smaller than utility-scale complexes, they’re located atop buildings, or on abandoned factory grounds and farms. Individuals or companies subscribe to portions of energy sent to the grid and get credits that reduce their electricity bills.

The model attracts people who can’t afford rooftop installations or live where solar is not accessible, such as renters and owners of dwellings without direct sunlight.

“We’re helping fight this climate war and blessing families with lower costs,” Howell said.

Nearly 1,600 community solar projects, or “gardens,” are operating nationwide, according to the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. Most are in Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado, although 41 states and Washington, DC, have at least one. Florida has relatively few but they’re big enough to make the state a leading producer.

Together they generate roughly 3.4 gigawatts—enough for about 650,000 homes—or roughly 3% of the nation’s solar output. Another 4.3 gigawatts are expected to go online within five years, says the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“We can have a cheaper, cleaner, and more equitable system for everyone if we build smaller, local resources,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access, a trade group.

Yet it’s unclear how big a role community solar will play in the U.S. transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

The Biden administration is continuing a US$15-million Energy Department initiative begun in 2019 to support its growth, particularly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The department announced a goal in October of powering the equivalent of five million households with community solar by 2025, saving consumers $1 billion.

But power regulation happens at the state level, where interest groups are fighting over what defines community solar and who should generate it.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says the label should apply only where private developers and non-profit cooperatives, not just utilities, can operate solar gardens and send power to the grid. The association says 19 states and Washington, DC, have such policies.

Utilities say having too many players could unravel regulatory structures that assure reliable electric service. They warn of disasters such as last winter’s deadly blackout in Texas.

“You’ve got lots of individual profit-motivated actors trying to make a buck,” said Brandon Hofmeister, a senior vice president with Consumers Energy. The Michigan power company is fighting state bills that would allow non-utility community solar providers.

Others say utilities are simply ducking competition.

“What’s really driving the rise of community solar is the free market,” said John Freeman, executive director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association, a trade group. “It saves money and promotes a cleaner environment.”

Growing Pains

Community solar took off in Minnesota after lawmakers in 2013 required Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, to establish a program open to other developers. It has more than 400 gardens—tops in the U.S.—with nearly 500 applications pending.

Keith Dent and Noy Koumalasy say subscribing to the Shiloh Temple garden has lowered their household energy bills an average of $98 per year.

“You’re generating your own power and saving a little money,” said Dent, who helped install several complexes built by Cooperative Energy Futures, a local non-profit.

Xcel, which is required to buy the gardens’ electricity, says the state formula for valuing solar energy makes it too expensive. The costs, spread among all the utility’s customers, essentially force non-subscribers to subsidize community solar, spokesperson Matthew Lindstrom told AP.

Community solar backers say Xcel’s claim ignores savings from local gardens’ lower distribution costs.

Among Cooperative Energy Futures gardens are 3,760 panels on a parking deck overlooking the Twins’ baseball stadium and a collection on a farm near Faribault, 50 miles (80 kilometres) south of Minneapolis.

Although conflicted about taking six acres out of production, farmer Gerald Bauer supports climate action and says lease payments of $1,200 per acre make community solar a financial winner.

“Farming doesn’t even come close to the revenue that the solar generates,” he said, walking through rows of panels framed by fields of corn.

A cooperative project for a municipal roof in nearby Eden Prairie has twice as many would-be subscribers as panels.

“There are people in the community who want to support clean energy any way they can,” said Jennifer Hassebroek, sustainability coordinator for the suburban city.

But community solar developers are hitting a roadblock: Under state law, residents and businesses can subscribe to facilities only in their county or an adjacent one.

That means the heavily-populated Twin Cites have many potential subscribers but are short of space for gardens. Rural areas have plenty of room but fewer buyers for the energy.

“Instead of spreading across the state, we’re going to concentrate on those counties that are adjacent to the subscription demand,” said Reed Richerson, chief operating officer of Minneapolis-based U.S. Solar Corp., which builds solar projects in half a dozen states.

A bill by State Rep. Patty Acomb, a Democrat representing a Twin Cities suburban district, would drop the “contiguous county” rule. But Xcel says that contradicts a basic community solar principle: producing energy close to where it’s used.

Community solar is billed as making renewable energy more available to households, especially needy ones. Yet businesses and public entities with sustainability goals, such as schools and city halls, subscribe to most of the power.

Some U.S. states are trying to change that.

New Mexico requires at least 30% of each community solar project’s subscribers to be low-income. Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and Oregon reserve portions of the energy for low- and moderate-income residents. New York provides financial incentives for developers to recruit them.

“There’s still a lot to be done to open community solar market access to marginalized folks,” said Gilbert Michaud, an assistant professor of public policy at Loyola University Chicago.

Looking Ahead

In states without established systems, community solar is struggling, AP says.

Michigan has about a dozen projects, although utility Consumers Energy this summer opened a 1,752-panel garden on abandoned factory grounds in Cadillac.

Conservative Republican Michele Hoitenga and progressive Democrat Rachel Hood are sponsoring House legislation to establish a state-regulated program open to third-party energy providers and utilities.

Hoitenga says it would boost freedom and the economy without raising taxes. Hood emphasizes climate benefits and equal access to renewable energy.

But their bills are opposed by Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, the state’s two biggest utilities. They would cause “overproduction of energy… and ultimately higher rates,” said DTE Energy spokesperson Pete Ternes.

Prospects are brighter in states friendly to non-utility developers such as New Jersey, Maine, and Illinois, said Rachel Goldstein of the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

She forecast a 140% nationwide jump in production capacity by 2026, although growth could hinge on lifting barriers such as project size limits.

Community solar likely won’t rival home rooftop installations soon if ever, Goldstein said, much less approach utility-scale operations.

“It’s not realistic to say we’re going to solve the climate crisis with this and everyone’s going to be a millionaire,” said Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, general manager of Cooperative Energy Futures. “But we can say you’re going to have a better life, more affordable and cleaner.”

The Canadian Press carried this Associated Press story on November 28, 2021.

Building Managers Can Help Limit Grid Demand, Rocky Mountain Institute Reports

It’s easier than expected to set up and maintain energy-efficient buildings that don’t burden the power grid at peak hours, says a new report written for building managers in the United States. 

Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs) are a “jargony” way of describing a package of familiar measures that together provide energy, cost, and emissions savings, say authors of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) report, which encourages managers to adopt low-and no-cost GEB measures to boost efficiency. “The beauty of GEBs is that many strategies can be implemented with existing, off-the-shelf technologies that have very compelling financial returns and valuable side benefits, from health and productivity to security and resilience,” said RMI Chair Emeritus Amory Lovins. 

GEBs integrate three different energy management approaches: energy efficiency (through known measures like efficient windows and window shading); distributed energy resources (such as onsite solar panels and battery storage); and demand flexibility.

Though demand flexibility is a relatively new concept for many building managers, it is the key to successfully capitalizing on GEB strategies, the authors say. It involves managing when energy is consumed, so that GEBs can help reduce periods of peak demand on the electricity grid. In this way, GEBs cut down the need for “peaker” plants that fill in energy production gaps but produce high emissions.

“Demand flexibility approaches can be low-tech, such as using a building’s thermal mass to heat or cool spaces at off-peak hours, or high-tech, such as drawing on battery storage to power building operations during peak hours,” says RMI. Managers must first assess the building’s utility rate structure, automation capacity, and daily energy use profile before making any changes, to determine the feasibility and impact of GEB measures. 

Demand flexibility may one day become more important than efficiency as the grid becomes increasingly greener and powered by variable energy sources, says RMI. When this happens, “’GEB-ready’ buildings will be poised to reap the most benefits as utilities adapt to this new reality.”

The RMI report identifies several other “simple, low-cost steps toward GEB readiness that produce immediate cost, energy, and carbon savings.” Building managers can program heating and cooling systems to turn on in sequence rather than all at once, and modify temperature settings to limit energy use during peak periods.

Report Urges Strategy to Curb World-Leading U.S. Plastic Waste

Responsible for leaking some two million tonnes of plastic waste into the world’s oceans each year, the United States must urgently establish a national strategy to wean itself off its plastic habit, starting with a cap on virgin-plastic production, says a new report. 

Closing the spigot on the waste created by the world’s top consumer of plastic will require “comprehensive reforms “by the end of 2022 that address everything from design and production through disposal, says Bloomberg Green, reporting on a paper by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The report calls on the U.S. federal government to drive those reforms, as even best efforts by state governments to tighten recycling streams and ban single-use plastics do not tackle the fundamental problem: the overproduction of fossil-based plastics that overwhelmingly cannot be recycled.

But interfering with the petrochemical-to-plastic assembly line will not be an easy sell. Bloomberg notes that the U.S. plastics industry “operated 15,688 manufacturing establishments, employed 758,000 people, and made shipments worth $334 billion in 2020.”

And then there is Big Oil’s ongoing efforts to funnel fossil fuels into massive ethane “cracker” plants for raw materials.

In addition to urging a national strategy to shift the U.S. towards a “post-plastic” economy, the National Academies’ panel of 10 experts—who spent a year studying plastic marine dumping—recommended a cap on virgin plastic production, limiting single-use and toxic plastics, and substituting plastics with materials that either biodegrade more quickly, or can be more easily recycled.

The panel also called for improvements to waste management infrastructure, regular cleanups of beaches and rivers, and minimizing at-sea disposal of any.

‘Shopaholic’ Americans Should Live More Like Europeans, Columnist Advises

As supply chain woes stymie America’s hunger to shop, a leading free market think tank writes that living “more like Europeans” would be better for the economy, the planet, and mental health. 

“Supply chain shortages are constraining U.S. consumers’ endless appetite for buying whatever they want whenever they want,” writes Allison Schrager, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in a recent op-ed for Bloomberg. And “it’s about time,” she adds, as “the U.S. economy could be healthier if it were less reliant on consumption.”

Household consumption currently generates roughly 67% of the United States’ GDP, compared to Germany, where 50% of GDP owes to the buying habits of regular people.

Per capita consumption in America grew 65% between 1990 and 2015, compared to 35% in Europe, and it shows in the numbers: the size of the average home jumped 300 square feet between 1980 and 2015, even as the size of the average family shrank.

Two other data points offered by Schrager: in 1980, 15% of U.S. households did not own a television, but by 2015, 40% had three or more, “including 30% of households earning less than US$40,000 a year!” And “clothing purchases have increased five-fold since 1980 and the average garment will only be worn seven times before it’s disposed of.”

Schrager says the U.S. has “become a nation of shopaholics” as the country got richer while consumer goods became cheaper and more accessible, courtesy of cheap labour (mostly from China and Mexico, she writes.) Access to the Internet helps, too, making it easier to find more goods at low prices without ever leaving home.

“But there are reasons to believe the age of over-abundance is over,” she writes. While the pandemic has helped to show the cracks in this “hyper-efficient global market”—most notably the fragility of supply chains—a federal move to boost resilience by encouraging domestic production has been in the works for a while. 

In the long run, Schrager adds, “made in America” will mean less trade, which “tends to mean less variety of goods at higher prices.” While “we will certainly not be deprived,” she says, “we will trim back our excesses, perhaps be more thoughtful about what we buy and purchase fewer, higher-quality goods.”

Trimming back the excess will be good for the economy: “long-term, sustainable growth doesn’t come from going deep into debt to buy stuff we don’t really need. It comes from technology and innovation, where we come up with new products and better ways of doing things.” And “if we are truly serious about protecting the planet, being a good global citizen will take more than driving an electric car or installing solar panels. It means consuming less so that we throw less away.”

Buying less might also make for happier people. Describing a culture “where buying stuff feeds the empty part of our souls,” Schrager hazards that it might be worth a try to take a long bike ride rather than fill up that Amazon cart. Even if that bike ride doesn’t change much on its own, at least it’s a more eco-friendly way “to shut out the darkness.” 

Canadian commentators are echoing Schrager’s message. In a recent CBC interview, X (formerly Ryerson) University sustainable design professor Lloyd Alter said that while government policies geared to reduce climate emissions are essential, so too are personal efforts to cut carbon through careful consumer choices.

“You can buy a low-carbon diet, you can buy a low-carbon house, and you can buy low-carbon transportation—and it’s absolutely, fundamentally, a matter of the choices that we make,” Alter said [speaking at least to the segments of the population that can afford those choices—Ed.]. “Just make everything last longer and buy less,” he advised.

A Plea to Make Widespread Environmental Damage an International Crime Takes Center Stage at The Hague – Inside Climate News

The campaign to make ecocide an international crime took center stage in the Hague on Tuesday as Bangladesh, Samoa and Vanuatu advocated criminalizing environmental destruction during a virtual forum at the annual meeting of the International Criminal Court’s 123 member nations.  The forum, attended by more than 1,300 individual participants, represented a collective cry for […]
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Earth’s Black Box Will Tell Future Generations the Story of the Climate Crisis

If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced in time to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis and civilization as we know it collapses, the future wanderers of the apocalyptic wasteland will at least know how it all happened.

That’s the idea behind Earth Black Box, a bus-sized steel monolith being built in the Tasmanian desert to record every bit of data on the climate crisis and our collective response.


“The purpose of the device is to provide an unbiased account of the events that lead to the demise of the planet, hold accountability for future generations and inspire urgent action,” the project website reads. “How the story ends is completely up to us.”

The project is a collaboration between a variety of makers including the University of Tasmania, marketing communications company Clemenger BBDO and artistic collective Glue Society, according to CNN.

It will be a 10-meter-by-4-meter-by-3-meter (approximately 34-foot-by-13-foot-by10-foot) steel monolith that will sit in a remote, rocky part of Tasmania’s west coast, as Australia’s ABC News reported. Inside, the device will be filled with storage drives connected to the internet and powered with solar panels. The drives will record both scientific data tracking the global climate and headlines and social media posts tracking the politicla response.

The idea is to replicate the “black box” that tells the fate of an airplane after a crash.

“Obviously it’s really a powerful concept when you say to someone, ‘Earth’s got a black box’. Because they’re like, ‘Why does it need a black box?'” Jim Curtis from Clemenger BBDO told ABC News. “But first and foremost, it’s a tool.”

The device won’t be completed until early in 2022, but the data recording began during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland in November, according to CNN. Right now, the black box will have the capacity to store data for the next three to five decades, but the designers are hoping to increase its storage capacity.

They are also still working out how to make the box accessible to people in the far future. Whoever finds it will need to break through three-inch steel walls and understand basic symbols, according to ABC News.

“Like the Rosetta Stone, we would look to use multiple formats of encoding,” the developers told ABC News. “We are exploring the possibility of including an electronic reader that stays within the box and will be activated upon exposure to sunlight, also reactivating the box if it has entered a long-term dormant state as a result of catastrophe.”

However, the device is also intended as a sort of wake up call. Currently, the pledges made by world leaders through 2030 put the globe on track for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker. But scientists have warned that it is essential to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“When people know they’re being recorded, it does have an influence on what they do and say,” Jonathan Kneebone of the Glue Society told ABC News. “That’s our role if anything, to be something in the back of everyone’s mind.”

Climate activists who were not involved with the project thought it sent an effective message.

“It is a very creative way of approaching what’s potentially the most disastrous outcome of the climate crisis by essentially creating this ‘doomsday vault’ for [climate] data,” Vladislav Kaim, a Moldovian member of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, told CNN. “To me, it shows the extent to which there is no consistency in the climate space to trust politicians on anything they say. It sends a very strong message that the real black box here is in the minds of the politicians who had all the levers required to avert the catastrophe but decided to keep passing the buck until it was too late,” Kaim added.

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Congo Ousts Mining Leader in a Cloud of Corruption Claims

The country’s president removed Albert Yuma Mulimbi as chairman of the state mining firm. Cobalt in Congo is a crucial resource in the global clean energy revolution.
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Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts: What to Expect (2022)

Massachusetts has quickly established itself as one of the most renewable energy-friendly states in the nation, and a large part of that is due to its growing solar energy industry. Surprisingly, however, the cost of solar panels in Massachusetts is actually over 10% higher than the national average.

Solar energy is beneficial for the climate and helps ensure reliability of power, but installing solar is also a major financial decision. How long will it take for solar panels to pay for themselves, and how much upfront capital is needed to get started? How much do solar panels cost in Massachusetts, exactly? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more.

Keep in mind that financials aren’t always clear-cut, as many components factor into the final cost of solar panels. The only way to know for sure how much solar would cost for your home is to compare free quotes from solar companies near you. You can get started by using this tool or filling out the form below.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Massachusetts?

As noted, installing solar energy projects in Massachusetts is more expensive than the U.S. average. Based on market research and data from top solar brands, the average cost of solar panels in Massachusetts is about $2.94 per watt. Compared with the U.S. average of $2.66 per watt, residents of Massachusetts can expect to pay about 11% more.

Of course, the cost per watt is just a normalizing metric, but how much an individual project will cost depends on total system characteristics. For an average-sized solar power installation project of about 5 kilowatts (kW), someone in Massachusetts can expect to pay an all-in cost of $10,878 after the federal solar tax credit is applied.

Of course, this value changes based on the size of the project, and the following table of potential system capacities highlights how that can fluctuate:

Size of Solar Panel System

Massachusetts Solar Panel Cost

Cost After Federal Tax Credit

5kW

$14,700

$10,878

6kW

$17,640

$13,054

7kW

$20,580

$15,229

8kW

$23,520

$17,405

9kW

$26,460

$19,580

10kW

$29,400

$21,756

Take note that these values are simply averages. Some systems may cost notably more than indicated in the table if the installation environment is particularly challenging or a more expensive installation company is chosen. Other customers will find their total bill to be lower than indicated above if their projects are straightforward and easy to complete.

For an accurate estimate for your home, you should consult with an expert and/or solar installer who can fine-tune a quote to your specific needs.

What Determines the Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts?

One reason it’s helpful to engage with an expert or consultant is that there are many factors that can and do influence the final cost of a solar system in Massachusetts. Solar energy system installation is not simply an off-the-shelf purchase that comes with a single price point. Rather, it’s a personalized and customized project that can see costs fluctuate higher or lower based on any of the following factors:

Solar Equipment

To start off, not all solar installations are built the same, and a key driving factor influencing the cost of your solar panels is the solar equipment chosen. This can be as straightforward as whether the project uses top-of-the-line, highly resilient, highly efficient solar PV panels (which will be more expensive) or if it uses the most basic and affordable solar panels.

In addition to that, though, solar systems feature various other types of equipment that can come with a range of price points. These types of equipment include the racking and hardware used to secure the panels to the rooftop, the digital technologies and software tools utilized to maximize the productivity of the panels, and any advanced mechanisms like solar tracking technology that include added costs.

Solar Financing

How you choose to pay for your panels will also influence total costs. For most installations, paying in cash will give you the quickest (and highest) return on your investment. However, with system costs that readily exceed $10,000, not all homes or businesses will be able to pay upfront. In such cases, solar financing options come into play, often with added costs.

If taking out a solar loan, the terms of that loan agreement will influence the exact amount of money paid when all is said and done. The longer that is needed to pay back the loan, the greater the interest will be accrued and the more the total costs will end up being.

Another option for those who don’t want to take out a loan is leasing the solar panels or engaging in a power purchase agreement (PPA). With either of these options, the homeowner doesn’t actually own the solar panels, so they don’t have to pay to have them installed. Your solar company will handle installation costs, and you’ll simply pay for the power the system produces.

Solar leases and PPAs are not recommended for homeowners who are looking to save money by switching to solar. Although your monthly electric bills may be slightly lower, you won’t be able to claim the federal tax credit, and there’s no “break-even” point after which you no longer have to pay for the energy you use.

Installation Company

Lastly, solar projects are significant undertakings, and like any home construction project, the final cost will inevitably depend on the company chosen to perform the installation. Anyone seeking to price out what solar panels will cost them should do their homework to get quotes and terms from multiple solar installers, as each company will have its own rates (which may or may not directly vary based on the quality of the work done).

Further, solar installation companies may be local in footprint or they may be broader national installers. While the national companies can better compete based on scale, many local installers in Massachusetts will end up offering lower prices or special deals to help them compete with larger companies.

Massachusetts Solar Incentives

While the upfront cost for solar panels can be intimidating, those considering diving into the world of solar energy should be encouraged by the fact that there are a number of incentive programs that allow homeowners in Massachusetts to save on their solar panel installations.

We’ve summarized need-to-know details in the table below, but you can read more about each offering in our Massachusetts solar incentives guide.

Massachusetts Solar Incentives

Description

Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit

Massachusetts homeowners are eligible for a 15% tax credit (up to $1,000) on their state income tax filing

Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) Program

This program allows Massachusetts residents to be compensated for every kilowatt-hour of energy generated by their solar systems.

Massachusetts Solar Tax Exemptions

Massachusetts does not collect sales tax on solar equipment and omits the added value of solar panels from property tax assessments.

Massachusetts Net Metering Program

Homeowners are paid per kilowatt-hour for all excess electricity their panels generate and push back into the central power grid.

Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC)

This solar incentive is available to all Americans. It allows solar adopters to claim 26% of their total equipment and installation costs as a tax credit on their next federal filing.

Any certified solar company in Massachusetts can ensure your system qualifies for the above incentives — and can help you apply for them. To connect with a top solar installer near you, you can use this tool or fill out the quick form below.

FAQ: Cost of Solar Panels in Massachusetts

Is it worth going solar in Massachusetts?

One reason solar energy has become so popular in Massachusetts is that it provides a great return on investment for homeowners. While the upfront cost of solar panels in Massachusetts can be a barrier to entry, virtually all projects (except solar leases or PPAs) have a payback period of less than a decade. If you can afford the installation costs, then yes, it is worth going solar in Massachusetts.

How much does it cost to install solar panels in Massachusetts?

The cost to install solar panels in Massachusetts will vary greatly based on many factors, including the size of the project, the solar incentives utilized, the financing method used to pay for them, the solar installation company chosen, the specific equipment used and more.

That said, the cost to install solar panels comes out to an average of $2.94 per watt, about 11% greater than the national average of $2.66 per watt. For a 5-kilowatt solar system, that would mean a cost for installation (after applying the federal solar tax credit) of about $10,878.

Are solar panels free in Massachusetts?

No, solar panels are not free in Massachusetts. That said, the costs are continuing to fall and many solar tax incentives exist at the local, state and federal levels, aiming to make them more affordable. Virtually all solar projects, when installed by experts, will end up paying for themselves well within their lifetime, creating a net profit for owners in the end.

Do solar panels increase home value in Massachusetts?

Yes, solar panels are a valuable asset for any home, and for a homeowner who takes the initiative to plan and install them, the resale value of their home will inevitably go up. Thanks to a key benefit offered by the state of Massachusetts, the increase in home value due to solar installations is omitted from property tax assessments.

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American Geophysical Union 2021: Key Events From the Columbia Climate School

A guide to some of the most provocative talks at the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.

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