With the gradual recovery of the U.S. economy in the past couple of quarters, the
solar market has returned to growth trajectory buoyed by solid installation activities. The state of California has been leading the U.S. solar market in terms of capacity.
As stated by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), California ranks first in terms of solar energy output within the United States, with solar energy supplying more than 20% of California’s electricity today. Naturally, there has been an increase in activities by prominent solar companies like
SunPower ( SPWR Quick Quote SPWR - Free Report) in the state, which might attract investors’ attention. What Led to the Boom?
As in the rest of the country, the trend of rapidly plummeting price of solar modules due to improved labor productivity; low supply chain costs, and higher module efficiency have been observed in California too. The Breakthrough Institute found that the value of solar has fallen by around 37% since 2014 relative to other sources of electricity, after analyzing six years of hourly generation and price data from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). This surely offers great incentive for solar installers.
Both the weather and the economic environment in California have been supporting a solar market boom. For instance, the California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) program was created as part of a statewide solar incentive program called the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which was launched in January 2007. The program was intended to provide incentives for the integration of solar energy systems in new home construction in investor-owned utility (IOU) territories. Also, the solar investment tax credit boosted the solar market in this state.
In August 2021, the California Energy Commission approved rules that would require new buildings, including multi-family housing and commercial structures, to be equipped with solar and battery storage. This should add further impetus to solar growth in the state.
Looking ahead, to help meet California’s target of 50% renewable generation by 2025, CAISO plans to add another 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity in 2021, per a report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration in August. CAISO had projected the addition of 2.5 GW of battery storage capacity in 2021. These projections make us confident about the continuance of the solar boom in California in the coming days.
Stocks to Watch
Considering the aforementioned discussion, let’s take a closer look at three solar stocks that have a strong presence in California and are thus poised to do well.
Sunrun ( RUN Quick Quote RUN - Free Report) has signed contracts with three community choice aggregators (CCAs) in California’s San Francisco Bay Area designed to meet state-mandated resource adequacy requirements, in August 2021. In 2020, the company had signed contracts to install up to 20 megawatts (MW) of solar-battery systems for about 6,000 homes served by CCAs East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Canadian Solar’s ( CSIQ Quick Quote CSIQ - Free Report) subsidiary, Recurrent Energy completed the divestiture of its Slate project in California to Goldman Sachs Renewable Power in January 2021. With a generation capacity of 300 megawatt-alternate current (MWac), Slate was Recurrent Energy's largest solar-plus-storage project. In May 2021, Recurrent Energy won a contract to build the $550 million Crimson Solar Project from the Biden administration. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3. You can see . the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here ReneSola ( SOL Quick Quote SOL - Free Report) clinched a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the output of a 20-MW solar project in California in December 2020 that will be coupled with 6.5 MW/26 MWh of battery storage. The output of the complex will be bought by Northern California-based electricity provider, Valley Clean Energy. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3.