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Solar news: January 22, 2021

In this week’s solar news round-up, we discuss the performance of the renewable energy market in 2020 and a new project in Hawaii which will help the state realize its goal of having 100% renewable energy by 2045.

2020 was a banner year for solar and renewable energy stocks

2020 was an excellent year for renewable energy stocks – renewable energy far outperformed the larger market in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, with some indexes increasing by more than 200% from 2020 values. Renewable energy exchange traded funds (ETFs) which saw strong returns in 2020 include the First Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy fund (87% return from 2020), Invesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (80.3% return from 2020), and Invesco Solar ETF (64.4% return from 2020).

This increase is partly due to the Federal Reserve decreasing interest rates in order to prevent the market from falling too drastically. However, it also reflects a trend across the renewable energy industry over the past several years. Renewable energy, particularly solar energy, is becoming increasingly more accessible to homeowners due to a sharp decrease in pricing, increased availability of community solar projects, and increased availability of battery storage projects (For more on solar industry data, check out our solar energy data page). Residential solar also saw an uptick in consumer interest during the pandemic due to an increased focus on home improvement projects nationwide.

Potential policy implications of the Biden administration are also driving increased faith in renewable energy. Throughout his campaign, President Biden discussed how his administration would prioritize green energy through subsidies, regulations, and federal investment. Since his inauguration on Wednesday, Biden has demonstrated his commitment to these goals by re-joining the Paris Climate accords accords and rescinding federal permits for the KeyStone XL pipeline. However, what else he will accomplish to support the solar industry remains to be seen.

Hawaian utility to install 6,000 batteries to support 100% renewable energy by 2045

Hawaii’s largest utility company, Swell Energy, recently announced a plan to install 25 megawatts (MW) of solar power and 80 MW of battery capacity throughout the state. This project is designed to help Hawaii reach its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045, and will also help to address the challenges posed by variable sunshine through the day.

Following the 2020 uptick in residential solar installations, Swell Energy CEO Suleman Khan told Greentech Media “2020 has been a period of great enlightenment among utilities with respect to behind-the-meter energy storage…The race for the virtual grid is on.”


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