Solar power is becoming a more viable option for both homeowners and businesses thanks to fallings costs and large-scale solar farms. A 2016 report from Bloomberg New Energy is shining a light on those excited about the future of solar energy.
In the last 10-20 years solar power has been reserved for those in sunny climates and the environmental activist crowd who were willing to pay more for solar rooftop panels to encourage clean energy. Throughout the 1990s until now the costs have slowly dropped due to technology, manufacturing, and government incentives; but a new push for solar power is set to really make waves in the energy industry. According to the report, costs associated with solar are expected to drop 60 percent by the year 2040.
A recent knock at the door in my neighborhood led to a meeting with the newest solar company in our area. They were offering two options for solar: installing rooftop panels to generate our home’s electricity or switching to a community solar farm that they are building. To preface our decision you have to realize we live in Western NY, not exactly an ideal region for solar power, marked by six minutes of sun a year. Blink and you miss the summer and the leaves begin to change colors.
If we install the maximum amount of solar panels on our house it would cost us roughly $10,000, but would provide only half the electricity we use. If we lived in California or Florida, those panels would generate enough electricity to power our entire house. Included in that quote is about another $10,000 in incentives, both federal and New York state, to further solar energy. Eventually those incentives will decrease.
The other option, one which is opening up solar energy to the masses, is community or shared solar, also known as a “solar farm” where a company sets up a large number of panels on a plot of land and ties into the grid offering alternative power. This came up to be a few cents less than we are currently paying and is a fixed rate rather than variable rate, but the caveat is the 20-year contract you have to sign off on. If we move then we would have to either pick up solar at our new home or get approval from the new homeowner that they would pick up our existing contract.
Many people are converting over to solar power and I have confirmed that several of my friends are saving money. There are obstacles such as initial investments and having to pay several different bills each month to manage your mix of energy. It doesn’t make sense right now in my personal situation in the tundra of Western NY, but cheaper solar energy is coming, even in western New York. Check out another look into the future from our resident HVAC swami here.
About the Author
My name is Tom, many people call me Tommy T, it’s that whole alliteration thing. Which sounds about right since I’m the resident writer at Coolfront. I wasn’t blessed with many skills but writing is one of them. When I’m not writing I’m either coaching, playing sports, watching sports or flipping stuff on eBay. One of my favorite quotes comes from the late great Jim Valvano of NC State basketball “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”More Content by Tom Talbot