by Nicolas Rinaldi
April 14, 2017

We kick off this week with news on residential solar costs, plus some fuel cell action.

What happens when unstoppable price declines meet immovable customer acquisition costs?

Customer acquisition isn't pulling its weight in the residential solar cost stack, according to a new analysis. Whereas other components have seen 10x cost reductions over the past decade, customer acquisition has remained at roughly 60 cents per watt. This week, we look at how new sales and marketing strategies could be the major driver in future costs gains for residential solar. (story)

A brief history of residential PV system costs in the U.S. from your friends at GTM Research.

Stephen Lacey examines the real-world effects of customer acquisition this week. A new study from NREL shows that large rooftop solar installers are quoting prices 10 percent higher on average than smaller installers, whose acquisition costs are generally much lower. His conclusion? Shop around, folks. (story)

If you're looking for even more cost analysis to float your boat this week, contributors from NREL and Rocky Mountain Institute shared data with us on residential solar-plus-storage installation costs in the U.S. (story)

Are fuel cells going Prime time?

Amazon is now in the fuel cell business. The company acquired 23 percent of fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power last week as part of a deal that will see the retailer investing $600 million to more efficiently fuel warehouse operations. (story)

The hydrogen hits the anode and your monthly order of paper towels arrives.

Car manufacturer Toyota has some fuel cell news of its own. The company's research institute announced it will invest $35 million to test new catalysts for fuel cell-powered vehicles in addition to research on rechargeable battery technologies for EVs. (story)

GTM Statcast

For your consideration: the best energy stats from the week of April 10, 2017.

85 Gigawatts
Forecasted global demand for solar in 2017, according to GTM Research. GTM Research revised the forecast upward with demand from China expected to hit a new record. (story)

$166 Million per Year
The monies now available in California's Self-Generation Incentive Program to boost distributed energy in the state. The California Public Utilities Commission more than doubled annual funding for the program last week. (story)

30% Storage Tax Credit
New energy storage credits approved in Maryland by both houses of the state legislature. If passed by the governor, storage would receive a 30 percent tax credit on the installed cost of a system, capped at $5,000 for residential and $75,000 for commercial projects. (story)

40 Megawatt-Hours
The cumulative microgrid generation capacity that Advanced Microgrid Solutions will install at 27 Walmart locations in Southern California. (story)

$3.23 per MMBtu
The price of natural gas in the U.S. as of the time of publication. This week, Julian Spector looks at a study from the University of California-San Diego showing that microgrid markets will favor natural-gas assets over renewables if left to their own devices. (story)

580,000 Electric Vehicles
The total number sold in the U.S. as of February 2017, representing approximately 1 terawatt-hour of annual power consumption. Julia Pyper examines a new report from SEPA on the potential of using EVs and charging infrastructure as a load-management resource. (story)

$150 per Kilowatt-Hour
The estimated price of generation for Hydrostar's compressed air storage solution. The company employs compressor technology from the oil and gas industry to squeeze air down into custom-built tunnel shafts, using water to maintain constant pressure. (story)

3,589 Offshore Wind Turbines
The number of offshore turbines installed in European waters. Stephen Lacey looks at how European players are now parlaying their domestic experience in offshore wind into opportunities in the nascent U.S. market. (story)

↓ 17%
The year-over-year decline in clean energy investments in Q1 2017, according to numbers just out from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. (story)

$4 Billion
The value of PACE-financed energy projects in the U.S. to date. Last week, federal legislation was introduced to eliminate the PACE program, which has come under fire for predatory lending practices. (story)

For more background on the recent criticism of PACE, see Katie Fehrenbacher's feature story on the program. (story)

64% of Americans
Believe that President Trump has the power to reverse the coal industry's steady decline, according to a new poll from the University of Texas. (story)