What are Solar SRECs: A Comprehensive Guide

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Solar energy adoption has risen significantly in recent years, thanks in part, to its eco-friendly attributes and cost-savings potential. A lesser-known aspect of solar energy is Solar Renewable Energy Certificates or SRECs. These certificates play a critical role in promoting solar power generation. They also ensure solar energy’s environmental benefits are properly recognized.

We’ll explore Solar SRECs, providing a comprehensive look at what they are, how they work, pricing, and their significance in the renewable energy landscape.

What Are Solar SRECs?

what are solar srecs

Solar SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Credits, are a type of tradeable certificate issued to solar panel owners for each megawatt-hour of electricity generated and delivered to the grid. They are usually created by states with renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which require utilities to generate a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. 

Solar panel owners can sell these certificates to utilities or other entities that need to meet their RPS requirements.

SRECs can be a valuable source of income for solar panel owners, and help make solar energy more affordable.

How Do Solar SRECs Work?

Solar renewable energy certificates work by quantifying the clean energy generated by solar systems. The process can be broken down into several steps:

Step 1: Solar Power Generation

Solar SRECs begin when owners start generating electricity from solar panels. Residential, commercial, and industrial properties with solar installations are the primary sources of these certificates. The amount of electricity generated is measured in megawatt-hours (MWh).

Step 2: Certificate Creation

Once a solar system generates a specific amount of electricity, a corresponding number of Solar SRECs are created. For instance, if a solar installation generates 1 MWh of electricity, one SREC is created.

Step 3: Certification and Tracking

SRECs are then certified and tracked by state agencies or renewable energy credit (REC) tracking systems. The certification process ensures that the electricity is generated from a clean and renewable source, in this case, solar power.

Step 4: SREC Trading

Once certified, SRECs can be sold or traded on the open market. Utility companies and other entities that need to meet renewable energy standards typically purchase these certificates to meet their compliance requirements.

The Impact of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates

solar panels on house

Solar renewable energy certificates play a critical role in promoting solar energy adoption and advancing renewable energy goals. Here are a few key ways they are essential:

1. Encouraging Solar Adoption

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) are a significant market-based instrument that helps to promote the development of solar energy.

They serve as a financial incentive for property owners to invest in solar installations. By creating a market for these certificates, solar system owners can recoup some of their initial costs, making solar power a more attractive investment.

Furthermore, when solar panel owners can sell their SRECs, they generate additional income that can offset the cost of their solar system. This makes solar energy more accessible to homeowners and businesses.

2. Supporting Renewable Energy Standards

Many states have established Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). These are state-level policies that require electricity providers to generate or purchase a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. SRECs provide a market-based mechanism for electricity providers to meet their RPS obligations.

Here’s how:

SRECs are created for each megawatt-hour of electricity generated from solar energy systems. The owner of the solar system can then sell the SRECs to electricity providers, who are required to purchase them in order to comply with state renewable portfolio standards (RPS).

SRECs help utilities meet these standards by allowing them to purchase clean energy certificates from solar system owners.

3. Quantifying Environmental Benefits

SRECs are also significant because reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. Solar energy is a clean and renewable source of energy that does not produce greenhouse gases. By promoting the development of solar energy, SRECs help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and protect the environment.

In addition to their environmental and economic benefits, solar renewable energy certificates also have a number of other benefits. For example, SRECs can help to create jobs in the solar industry and boost local economies. They can also help to increase energy security and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

Other Benefits:

  • In 2022, SRECs generated over $1 billion in revenue for solar panel owners in the United States.
  • SRECs have reduced the cost of solar energy by up to 50% in some states.
  • SRECs have helped create over 100,000 jobs in the solar industry in the United States.

SREC Markets and Value

going solar - questions you must ask

The value of solar renewable energy certificates can vary significantly depending on the state, the supply of SRECs, and the demand for renewable energy. 

Generally, SREC markets are regionally based, and the value of an SREC is determined by market dynamics. Here’s how SREC markets work and their value work:

1. Regional Variation

SREC markets are typically regional, meaning the value of SRECs differs from one state to another. States with more ambitious renewable energy goals or stricter RPS requirements tend to have higher SREC prices.

2. Supply and Demand

The supply of SRECs is influenced by the number of solar installations and the amount of solar power generated in a given region. High supply can lead to lower SREC prices, while high demand from utilities trying to meet their RPS targets can drive up prices.

3. Trading and Aggregation

SREC markets are not limited to individual solar system owners. Many homeowners and businesses use SREC aggregators or brokers to pool their SRECs and sell them collectively. Aggregation can provide better negotiating power and potentially lead to higher SREC prices.

4. SREC Prices and Trends

SREC prices can fluctuate over time, influenced by changes in energy policies, market forces, and the growth of the solar industry. It’s essential for solar system owners to keep track of SREC market trends to maximize the value of their certificates.

How to Earn Solar SRECs

To earn solar renewable energy certificates, you must first install a solar panel system on your home or business. The steps are as follows:

Steps to earn solar renewable energy certificates:

  1. Install a solar panel system. You can find a qualified solar installer in your area by using the Solar Energy Industries Association‘s (SEIA) solar installer directory.
  2. Register your solar system with your state’s SREC registry. Each state has its own SREC registry, so you will need to find the contact information for your state’s registry online.
  3. Sell your SRECs to an electricity provider or SREC aggregator. You can sell your SRECs directly to an electricity provider or you can sell them to an SREC aggregator. An SREC aggregator is a company that buys SRECs from multiple solar panel owners and then sells them to electricity providers in bulk.

FAQ

solar SRECs faq

1. How do I earn more from solar SRECs?

  • Make sure that your solar system is properly sized for your energy needs. A properly sized solar system will generate more electricity, which will earn you more SRECs.
  • Choose an SREC-experienced solar installer. A qualified solar installer can help you register your solar system with your state’s SREC registry and maximize your SREC earnings.
  • Compare SREC prices from different electricity providers and SREC aggregators before you sell your SRECs. SREC prices can vary depending on the state and the time of year.

2. How many SRECs will my system produce?

To estimate the number of SRECs your solar system will produce, multiply the size of your system in kilowatts (kW) by 1.2. For example, a 5-kW solar system will produce approximately 6 SRECs per year.

However, it is important to note that the actual number of SRECs produced may vary depending on a number of factors, including the location of your system, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the efficiency of your solar panels.

To get a more accurate estimate of the number of SRECs your system will produce, you can use a solar calculator or consult with a solar installer.

Conclusion

Solar renewable energy certificates are a valuable tool for promoting the development of solar energy and creating a more sustainable energy future. By earning SRECs, you can offset the cost of your solar panel system, generate additional income, and support the growth of the solar industry.

If you are considering installing a solar panel system, be sure to research your state’s SREC program to learn more about how you can earn SRECs. 

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  • Simon Elstad

    As assistant editor at Greener Ideal, Simon champions clean energy, mobility, tech and the environment. He’s passionate about uncovering innovative solutions that power a sustainable future. When he's not dissecting envirotech data, you can find him exploring nature, actively supporting wildlife & environmental conservation efforts.

    Contact: [email protected]

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