The structure of tax incentives in the U.S. also helps explain why it’s the only country where the TPO model has thrived. Homeowners elsewhere buy rooftop solar systems outright, and for much cheaper; Americans pay twice as much as their global peers. Australia and other countries offer substantial upfront subsidies or rebates—at one point, the Australian subsidies covered some 80 percent of the cost of a typical system. (They now cover about a third of the cost, which is falling.) In the U.S., by contrast, homeowners who buy systems outright can’t claim the credits until the next time they file their taxes, and then only if they owe the government at least as much as the value of the credit. (Currently the credit can be spread over multiple years.) That and other factors play to the strengths of Sunrun.


SolarCity was described by more than one person as a mortgage company that happened to sell solar panels. The advantage of TPO systems is that you can get into them for nothing. The disadvantage is you're swapping one utility for another, usually with a 20-year commitment.

First Solar chased Solar City out of Nevada by arguing that they weren't entitled to the individual solar credit under state law because they weren't individual homeowners. Solar City argued that yeah, they kinda were, after all they had all these liens. The court was not amused. Tesla bought out Solar City about nine months later. First Solar, for their part, sells to utilities - they aren't interested in rolling up a million mortgages when they can put acres out in the desert. Solar panels in Nevada are something like eight times as useful as solar panels in Seattle for obvious reasons... and if you're going for efficiency, why not put the panels out where the sun is?

posted by nil: 250 days ago