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In 2019, the highest number of total solar installations smashed previous records, leading experts to project another big year for the solar industry in 2020. But we all know what happened next. Despite the year’s setbacks, solar power has remained resilient inspiring a hopeful outlook for the year ahead. Below are 5 projections SunPower has identified as upcoming trends in the new year based on what we’ve seen so far.

Solar Will Continue to Grow, Even During the Pandemic

The pandemic’s entry in 2020 challenged just about every business to adapt and innovate. While the solar industry had its own obstacles to bear, implementing stricter safety protocols and fine-tuning digital business practices made all the difference. For SunPower, making these changes early on was a large part of our successOnline appointments took over the traditional consultation process and solar installers practiced responsible social distancing. Each month, we have seen an upward trend in the number of homeowners ready to take charge of their electricity. Only 2% of U.S. residents are currently using solar energy, leaving a large market of possibilities.

Effects of Climate Change Continue

In addition to the global pandemic, multiple natural disasters made themselves known during 2020, many of which are being contributed to climate change. With what seemed to be a longer than usual wildfire season across the west coast and a record-breaking hurricane season along the Atlantic, this past year saw more than enough evidence that environmental stewardship is more important than ever before. While the effects of climate change don’t seem to be slowing down, SunPower will continue to stay focused on changing how our world is powered.

Sustainability Goals Become More Ambitious

Brands across the nation are actively embracing more sustainable practices, in part, to help mitigate the effects of climate change. As a result, many companies have created ambitious plans to significantly reduce carbon emissions, all within a fairly tight timeline. SunPower has had the pleasure to work with many of these businesses in an effort to help them reach these goals. Just last year, SunPower helped install more than 26 MW of solar for its commercial customers and that’s not counting PPA partnerships or connections made through its expansive dealer network. That’s an equivalent to carbon sequestered by approximately 2.5 million tree seedlings grown over a 10-year span of time. We look forward to increasing those efforts within the next year as more brands implement cleaner energy for cost savings and corporate social responsibility efforts.

Energy Storage Demand Rises

The future of solar energy is here and it starts with homeowners getting more control over the power they generate through their solar panels. When extreme weather hits and leads to rolling blackouts from wildfire activity, snowstorms and even hurricanes, it makes sense that homeowners would want a solar battery on their side. Many are already finding great value in the peace of mind that a reliable backup system can bring and we expect interest to only increase over time. At SunPower, we’ve already seen an encouraging demand for our SunVault™ storage system as we roll the product out in select regions across the U.S.

Solar Power Becomes More Affordable

Solar energy has become more mainstream globally and a lot of that is due to policies supporting its implementation. As a result, the decision to switch to solar power has become increasingly more affordable throughout the decades. So much so that last year solar energy hit a new milestone, historically low costs. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power is now the cheapest source of electricity in history for some parts of the world. And policymakers aren’t stopping there. From state to federal levels, environmental advocates like the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are working to create more benefits for solar adopters. This includes the recent extension of the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC). Beginning this year, the ITC was originally slated to decrease to 22% of the total installed cost of a solar system. However, with the COVID-19 rescue package, the tax credit is now set to 26% during 2021 and 2022.

While we don’t exactly know what the future holds, SunPower has seen the incredible resiliency of the solar industry during one of the most challenging years any of us have ever experienced in this lifetime. That alone helps SunPower remain focused on the mission at hand, providing high-quality solar + storage solutions that homeowners and business owners have come to trust throughout its 35 years. We look forward to what the new year will bring, anticipating that it will end even better than it started.

This post originally appeared on the SunPower Resource Blog