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Constraints of Solar Investments

As solar energy becomes an increasingly popular investment option, it’s crucial for potential investors to understand the various constraints and requirements associated with commercial solar investments. In this article, we’ll discuss five key constraints that you should be aware of when considering commercial solar investments.

Active Investor Requirements

In order to enjoy the tax benefits associated with solar investments, it’s essential to be an active participant in the business. To qualify as an active investor in the solar business, you must dedicate a minimum of 100 hours annually to activities related to your investment for the first 5 years while you are utilizing the tax savings benefits. This requirement ensures that investors are engaged with their investments and knowledgeable about the industry. Activities that count toward this requirement include viewing site work (even if you are not an expert), attending relevant conferences and educational seminars qualify for this hours requirement. Second, participation by either spouse is counted toward satisfying the annual hours, so it is more like 50 hours per person for married couples.

Annual Depreciation Cap

Tax depreciation offers a method for businesses to allocate the cost of an asset over its useful life, providing tax deductions and reducing taxable income. However, there are annual limits on the amount of depreciation that can be claimed against W-2 income like you salary, RSU’s etc. For individuals, the limit is $289,000, while for couples filing jointly, the limit is $578,000 annually. It’s important to note that there is no limit to the amount of tax credits you can apply in a given year and if you have excess depreciation for the current tax year, you can roll them forward.

Tax Credit (ITC) Limitations for Current Year Tax Write-off

In the current tax year, you cannot claim tax credits exceeding 75% of your taxes due. However, any remaining amount can be offset using Investment Tax Credits (ITC). This constraint aims to balance the tax benefits of solar investments with the need to maintain government revenue streams. If you have excess tax credits that can’t be applied this year you can apply them to the past 3 years to get a tax refund or carry them forward for the next 20 years to apply to future years taxes.

Minimum Investment for Sale-Leaseback Structure

A sale-leaseback is a financial arrangement in which a solar project developer sells a solar system to an investor and then leases it back from the investor. This way, the investor benefits from tax incentives and a steady income stream from the project, and the developer operates and maintains the system. To participate in a sale-leaseback arrangement, you must invest a minimum of $135,000. Check out our in-depth case study on the Sale-Leaseback Structure, and calculate your potential returns using our solar calculator.

Minimum Investment for Flip-Partnership Agreement

Another financing option for solar investments is the flip-partnership agreement. This structure requires a higher minimum investment of $350,000, reflecting the potential rewards associated with this investment option. The flip-partnership agreement is suitable for investors seeking potentially higher returns in the form of tax benefits. Check out our in-depth case study on the Flip-Partnership Agreement, and calculate your potential returns using our solar calculator.


Understanding the constraints associated with solar investments is essential for making informed decisions and maximizing the potential benefits of these investments. By considering factors such as active investor requirements, annual depreciation and tax credit limits, minimum investment amounts, and tax limitations, you can better navigate the world of commercial solar investments and choose the right options for your financial goals.

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