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Solar energy is getting cheaper

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While checking out a story online, confirming the drop in the cost of solar power systems, a quick Google search turned up nearly 20 companies as "Boulder County Solar Energy companies". Just 5 years ago the Boulder CO Yellow pages had 3 to 5 listings under "Solar" and only 2 of them were actual solar energy solution providers.

Now, companies like Namasté Solar, in Boulder provide full service Solar solutions for both commercial and residential properties. And organizations like Main Street Power support both public sector and non-profit entities in meeting their development goals through the deployment of solar energy.

Some of their clients include education facilities, municipalities, public housing authorities and non-profits, providing education, discounted electricity rates, and discounted ownership options.

The fact is that solar and other clean energy technologies are beginning to give the dirty-old business-as-usual polluters a serious run for their money. Across the 50 states, the average cost of Photo Voltaic (PV) systems installed in 2010 that were less than 10 kW ranged from $6.30/W to $8.40/W depending on the state.

No wonder corporations like Wal-Mart are jumping on board with their solar plans, even television is promoting solar technology as a clean energy option. After years of ambivalence, conservative friends of fossil fuels are stepping up their anti-clean energy efforts.

Basic laws of supply and demand, that we all learned in high school, mean as large institutions like Wal-Mart, State governments or even the University of Colorado, plan their conversion installations the price for the materials should drop. Many of the materials are still created overseas, but once they are installed the power production becomes a local solution to local power consumption reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources.

Solar production is dropping dramatically in price, and is looking like a serious competitor for energy production. We've already seen promising signs that solar could be cheaper than coal in parts of Europe by 2013. In fact, studies show that the installed cost of solar dropped 11% in the first 6 months of 2011.

Recently, China reported that solar could be as cheap as coal by 2015, other industry news claim that Italy could become the first country in the world to achieve solar cost parity, and that broader price parity would be reached by 2020 if the right policy framework is put in place to both gradually phase out solar subsidies, and also remove direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuels.

Possibly, even more exciting is that the installed cost (the hardware costs, plus the installation costs) of solar power have dropped consistently over the last few years. They have done so at a time when cash incentives from states and utilities have declined annually since 2002.

The information comes from a report on solar energy costs from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of the Department of Energy.

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