It’s just about here. For years, renewable energy advocates promised that solar would one day be affordable to all American consumers — who have, by and large, relied on federal tax rebates to lower the out-of-pocket costs for new installations. The U.S. rooftop solar industry lived up to that prediction in the past year, thanks to breakthrough innovations that helped to change the landscape of North America’s most popular renewable energy. Still, if there is any takeaway to be gained from the last half of 2016, it’s that solar is truly a global industry, fueled by global change. Plummeting production costs and two unexpectedly low construction bids in Abu Dhabi and China helped underscore solar’s potential for inexpensive, sustainable energy worldwide. The increasing use of solar to power remote, off-the-grid impoverished communities in Africa, India and Latin America helped to drive home the diverse appeal and benefits of a global renewable energy market. Here in the United States, access to solar power is still largely limited to mid- and upper-income families. The George Washington Solar Institute found that a whopping 40 percent of households that qualify for solar under U.S. federal tax incentives have annual incomes below $40,000.