Solar power may be more attractive than ever due to the lowered cost of Photovoltaic systems which can now complete with electricity derived from coal or nuclear power plants, and in some cases, cost even less. This is good news for homeowners who want to join the “Green” movement.
Solar power systems convert sunlight into electricity through photovoltaic cells which absorb the energy from the sun. Early PV systems converted only 1% - 2% of sunlight into electric energy. Today’s systems convert 7% - 17% of light energy in to electric energy, and the cost of producing PV systems is much less than early systems. Solar systems include heating panels, water heaters, attic fans, bath and stove fans, battery chargers, and thermal systems. Some homeowners power their workshop, garage or shed entirely with solar.
A solar power system may stand alone or be connected to the grid, which means that the electric company must pay the consumer for his additional unused electricity. PV systems collect energy from the sun, then store it in DC batteries. An inverter is installed so you can use normal appliances (AC). Panels may be mounted to your roof or on poles in a yard.
In the past two years, the cost of a residential PV solar power system has dropped by approximately 40 percent. In areas where conventional electricity costs about 17 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a solar system can produce power at the same rate or even less. The U.S. Electric industry average was 12 cents per kWh in February, 2014, but each region is very different, and rates seem to go up annually.
The cost of a solar system may be outweighed by the high cost and environmental impact of coal plants and nuclear plants. Let’s face it – if people didn’t use a lot of electricity, these solutions wouldn’t exist. The idea that shutting down some of the “conventional” power plants is very appealing to the Green movement.
The cost of solar systems may be offset by Federal tax credits as well as rebates and tax credits in some states. According to energystar.gov/taxcredits homeowners may claim a 30% tax deduction for solar water heat, photovoltaic, and other solar-electric technologies. Businesses have several options for tax deductions including those covered in the 179D Energy Policy Act of 2005. This credit expires on 12/31/ 2016.