According to a new study released today by Greentech Media (GTM), the U.S. market for utility-scale solar energy farms is expected to double each year between 2010 and 2015. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research group came to this conclusion after carefully reviewing all solar power projects that have been announced by developers and utilities to date.
In our numerous years of helping homeowners determine whether a solar electric system is right for them, we've found that a number of questions tend to arise. Like, how much do solar panels cost? What solar rebates, tax credits and other incentives are available in my area? Is my roof good for solar? What should I do before I get solar? And what the heck is a solar renewable energy credit, anyway?
Just days after southern California's San Dieguito Union High School District installed solar "carports" above parking areas at two of its high schools, northern California's Jefferson Union High School District (JUHSD), just south of San Francisco, completed a similar project of its own.
The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), a regional electricity provider in New York, has resolved a common problem that has plagued numerous utilities across the countries: too many people want to install a solar home energy system.
La Costa Canyon High School and Canyon Crest Academy -- two high schools in northern San Diego, California -- have installed one-megawatt (MW) solar "carports" above parking areas that will each account for 70 percent of each school's needs. According to Sign on San Diego, the solar energy systems are set to be fully functional by January 2011.
Southern California Edison (SCE), one of California's three major utility service companies, is already a leading supplier of solar power out of any utility company in the country. And last week, in an effort to both cushion its distance between itself and the rest of the nation's utilities and help meet California's goal of 33 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources by 2020, SCE added 245 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity to its grid.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are once again entering the solar technology field to help solve one of solar's most pressing questions: how can we efficiently store and transport solar energy?
SunEdison just flipped the switch on a 70-megawatt (MW) solar energy plant in Rovigo, a small town in northeast Italy. The Rovigo plant is currently the largest single photovoltaic (PV) plant in Europe.
Qualified California homeowners are realizing what many leaders of the solar energy industry hope is the future: free solar energy.
With some of the highest insolation rates in the country, Arizona has gained quite the reputation for its ability to generate solar power. It would only make sense, then, that the state would use all this potential within its own borders, right?
Standard Solar -- a Maryland solar installation company -- has partnered with Sol Systems to help make clean energy more accessible for mid-Atlantic homeowners.
Briarcliff Manor and Pleasantville in Weschester County, New York will share a federal solar grant that will allow both municipalities to install new solar photovoltaic (PV) systems atop their public works department garages.
Solar energy installations aren't making life easier for everyone, especially in California, where a unique, unforeseen problem has emerged due to the rapid rate of solar installations.
As Merriam-Webster tells us, inflation is defined as:
"a continuing rise in the general price level usually attributed to an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods and services."
I know, I know -- not exactly the kind of thing you want to be reading on a Friday. But before your eyes glaze over, take a look at the following picture, via our friends over at Clean Power Finance.
As you can see, we've got two situations. One in which we don't install a solar energy system (shown by the "pre-solar" blue dotted line) and one in which we do install a solar energy system (shown by the "post-solar" green line). After installing solar panels, our annual electric bill goes from about $1,000 to, say, around $450. Our new solar energy system is meeting more than half our annual electricity needs -- pretty cool, huh?
(Related: How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?)
Now, you might have noticed that, in year 13, the gap between the pre-solar line and the post-solar line is wider than it was in the first year -- and the gap is wider still in year twenty-five. In other words, the amount of money solar power saves us increases over time. What's going on here?
Just in time for hockey season, an ice rink in Rockville, Maryland is now home to one of the largest single rooftop solar energy systems in the entire state.
Many Florida homeowners who applied for rebates when installing energy-efficient air conditioning and solar energy systems as part of the Florida Solar Rebate Program have waited quite a while for that check in the mail. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the program expired at the end of June, its funds having run out months before. Over 10,000 applications were received since the cash dried up, leaving thousands of Florida residents without their solar rebate or energy-efficiency rebate money.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday approved a 500-megawatt (MW), 6,320-acre solar power facility to be built in Nevada's Amargosa Desert, just east of Death Valley National Park. Dubbed the Amargosa Farm Road Solar Project, it is the eighth project approved by the Secretary since early October and is expected to stimulate Nevada's economy by creating both temporary and permanent clean energy jobs.
Some residents of Concord, California are up in arms over a 1,000-panel solar power project that could soon be approved by the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD).
Leaders of the U.S. solar industry will have one last shot at convincing the current Congress to extend a key federal solar incentive before a new Republican-controlled congress takes over at the beginning of 2011. Most indications are that the solar grant option -- which has for the past two years provided cash grants worth 30 percent of commercial solar energy system costs -- will sunset at the end of 2010, as scheduled.
A bit ago, we reported that Salt River Project (SRP) -- an Arizona utility -- couldn't keep up with demand for its solar rebate program, and therefore decided to suspend rebates until 2011. The abrupt suspension of solar rebates in other parts of the country has, not surprisingly, put many solar project plans on ice. Without knowing what size rebate will be available for future solar installations, system owners and solar installers alike aren't able to accurately estimate out-of-pocket solar costs.
On November 2, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) announced it would make cuts to solar rebates available through its solar incentive program. Now, it seems, homeowners, businesses and industry participants are pushing back, saying that the proposed cuts would hamper growth in solar power projects just at the time when L.A.'s residential solar market was started to take off.
New England's largest solar energy plant is complete and set to begin producing power by the end of November.
Dow Jones & Company is in the midst of building a 4.1-megawatt (MW) solar energy installation at its corporate facility in South Brunswick, New Jersey. On Friday, the company released some photos of the project. Check 'em out!
A new, affordable, easy-to-use, solar-powered device to measure blood pressure could soon hit the market.
It seems as though just about anything, if captured correctly, can be turned into clean energy. If you're not a believer, consider the latest clean energy technology developments at the University of Rhode Island (URI), where researchers have developed four different ways to use roads to generate electricity.
Did you know that the U.S. military is making some considerable progress in the realms of energy efficiency and renewable energy? It's true. Consider the following not-so-exhaustive list:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday revealed a new program intended to show American homeowners where their home ranks in energy efficiency and how much money they can save by making improvements.
Prudential Financial, Inc. has installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system atop its Scottsdale, Arizona building -- along with charging stations for electric vehicles in its nearby parking lot.
For the nerds out there who want to learn fun details of solar technology without taking engineering classes, we have a brief intro to solar parabolic troughs.
Thanks to an agreement between SunPower, a leading solar-panel manufacturer and project construction company, and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) will soon host a 6-megawatt (MW), 30-acre solar energy system. If all goes according to plan, the new Colorado solar installation will be fully operation by summer 2011.
Which energy efficient improvement to your home will save you the most money on your monthly utility bill? Take a wild guess...
Life in the state with the highest quality of life is about to get a little better, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
Green Mountain Power Corporation (GMP) -- Vermont's second-largest utility company -- has contracted Alteris Renewables to build solar energy systems throughout the state in order to meet a company goal of 10,000 panels installed in 1,000 days.
Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair -- along with Cogenra CEO Dr. Gilad Almogy and Founder of Khosla Ventures Vinod Khosla -- spoke about the role of economics in the adoption of green technology before a crowd at the Sonoma Winery in northern California last Thursday. All three sent the same message: economics, not environmentalism, is best equipped to solve the world's most pressing energy- and environment-related issues.
Just over a year and a half ago, OPEL Solar -- a Connecticut-based energy company -- installed a rooftop solar energy system at Linden Elementary School in Plainville, Connecticut. It was the first project of its kind in the state, and added Connecticut to a growing list of states with solar energy systems installed atop public elementary schools.
The approvals continue to roll in from federal regulators as California tries to turn its desert area into one giant solar energy generating machine.
Utility-scale solar power requires setting up large arrays of solar panels on open land. Since large tracts of sunny, unused land are pretty hard to come by, large-scale solar developers occasionally face opposition from stakeholders who ascribe other value to land that could otherwise be developed for solar.
A common misconception about solar panels is that they are a new technologies. But scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey know the truth.
With the introduction of a new solar lease program in Washington, D.C., there's now really no reason for the White House not to go solar...
Clean energy advocates around the world (GetSolar staff, included) breathed a collective sigh of relief today. That's because Californian voters yesterday rejected Proposition 23, a measure that sought to suspend the state's Global Warming Act of 2006 and threatened to cast a shadow over California's growing clean energy sector.
About a month ago, Dupont hinted it may develop a solar shingle that would challenge Dow Chemical Company, which has been working on its own building integrated phovotvoltaic (BIPV) product offerings.
On Tuesday, the second company achieved a milestone, earning Underwriters Laboratories' safety certification for itsPowerhouse Solar Shingle, a product that Dow hopes will generate $5 billion in revenue by 2015. Here's a snippet from the press release:
"This is another important milestone towards the planned 2011 commercialization of Dow's solar shingles, and represents a crucial third-party validation of the safety of this product," said Dow Solar Vice President, Jane Palmieri. "We are dedicated to making solar easy for homeowners, builders, and roofing contractors who already trust the performance and safety of building products bearing the Dow brand."
It bears noting, however, that solar shingles are considerably less efficient than conventional framed solar panels. As a result, a large area is needed to generate any appreciable amount of electricity. Because of these limitations, residential solar shingle projects represent a very small percentage of total solar panel projects in the U.S. Whether Dow's new PowerHouse shingle can change this remains to be seen.
On New Year's eve, a helpful federal solar incentive will turn into a pumpkin.
Following the planned 2012 release of Tesla Motors' highly anticipated Model S sedan, CEO Elon Musk just announced that Tesla will release an electric-powered SUV just 2 years later: the Model X. The Model X will use the same "adaptable common platform" as the Model S, but will boast a slightly more specialized battery pack. It's exciting news for followers of green technology and energy issues in the broadest sense.
A number of U.S. companies are leading the charge in developing better batteries for use in conjunction with clean energy systems.
California, take a good look at the cost structure of the Ivanpah solar energy project, which is to be built over the next three years in the Mojave Desert along the California-Nevada border. Appreciate that BrightSource Energy -- the Oakland, California-based firm that is developing the $2 billion project -- was able to secure a guaranteed loan from the federal government and combine it with a 30 percent grant, in order to make the three-project mega-plant happen. Now know this: such a financing structure may never be possible again.
Updated for 2016: The price of solar has dropped dramatically over the last five years. The 30% US Federal Tax Credit (ITC) was just extended for 2016 through 2020! System prices are now 50% to 60% less expensive than they were! Go to our new GetSolar/EnergySage partnership Quote Engine to get real time pricing.
Original Post: We all know that gasoline is priced in dollars per gallon. We also all know about how far we'll be able to drive after shelling out 40 bucks for a tank of gas.
When it comes to solar power, however, not many of us know how the cost of solar panels is measured. Nor, for that matter, do we immediately see the relationship between the cost of solar power and the value of solar power. Unlike a tank of gas, the value of which is enjoyed (and used up) more or less immediately, solar panels deliver their value over a number of years.
With this in mind, the aim of this post is to answer two questions: (1) How much do solar panels cost? AND (2) Does the value of solar panels outweigh the cost? So, enough chit chat. Let's get started.
How much do solar panels cost? --> Try our free solar cost calculator.
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels -- which turn the sun's rays into electricity -- are typically priced in dollars per watt ($/W). There are a few details related to this measure. You may sometimes hear some people talk about DC watts versus AC watts, for example, or refer to something called dollars per watt peak ($/Wp). But the main thing to remember is that, when you buy a solar energy system, you're paying for the ability -- or "capacity" -- to generate electricity now and into the future. Pretty cool, huh?
So, how much are you paying? What is the out-of-pocket cost of a solar PV system?
The Aloha state is prepared to take an important step toward meeting its green goal of getting 70 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Sopogy -- a Honolulu-based company that uses Micro-Scaled Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology -- will partner with Keahole Solar Power and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to build the Kalaelola Solar One Plant in western Honolulu.