The Future of Solar Energy in the United States

The Future of Solar Energy in the United States

When we hear about solar power, we tend to think about massive farms of solar panels, generating thousands of kilowatt hours of energy. The debate in scientific circles has tended to focus on whether or not renewable energy sources, like wind, solar, and geothermal, can come close enough to matching the output of traditional forms of energy like oil, natural gas, and coal to make the switch to renewables worth it. In reality, any sustainable energy plan for America’s future must necessarily feature solar power as one amongst a plethora of energy options that are more sustainable for our planet. Solar power is here to stay, and many experts think that as solar panel technology is improved solar power will become more readily available for average, everyday Americans. In fact, though cost is the greatest enduring barrier to widespread use of solar panels, many technologies are being developed that will make solar powered conveniences for everybody, not just those who can afford to put a full set of solar panels on their roof.
Helen Lee Schifter has recently pointed out that solar power does not just have to do with large scale energy operations, though. Even something as simple as sustainable décor for holiday decorations can make a small impact. Helen Lee Schifter notes that many Americans like to use string lights during the holidays. The problem with that, however, is that string lights on such a grand scale tend to use a great deal of energy. A solution to this that she suggests is solar powered holiday lights that soak up the sun’s rays during the day and shine brightly at night. This would mean that a net zero amount of energy would be taken from coal or natural gas powered plants to fuel a festive holiday decoration setup. It is true that sustainable holiday decorations like solar powered lights are great for the environment and save on fossil fuels, but they also help the individual consumer as well. Those who switch to solar powered lights and other sustainable holiday decorations will notice a great deal of savings on their energy bills. Creative solutions like this are a great way to take discussions about solar power out of the media and into individuals’ homes. The future of solar power does not just have to be about how the country at large structures its power grid. In fact, discussions about solar power do not have to be political at all. Developing new sustainable technologies like solar powered holiday lights that are cheap and widely available to consumers will encourage individuals to take responsibility for the way that they consume electricity. It will also allow people to make sustainable yet small choices that, on the aggregate across many consumers, will have a great total impact on the health of the environment. In the end, that is what sustainability is all about. Helen Lee Schifter believes that each individual should be empowered to make ethical decisions that can end up making a profound impact on the world.

Affordable Solar Energy Systems

Affordable Solar Energy Systems

Shalom Lamm, the New York Real Estate mogul may be old school, but when it comes to energy systems, Lamm definitely believes in solar energy.

A huge part of Shalom’s reasoning for why he encourages people to invest in Solar Energy Systems is the cold, hard, mathematics of solar energy.

Say you live in upstate New York in Sullivan County such as Shalom Lamm does. There the cost of electricity runs around 18.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Based on an average of around 1,000 kilowatts, that means you’ll pay approximately $190 a month on electricity, or a little over 2200 per year.

How does this compare with solar? According to industry experts, the average price of a kilowatt of solar-produced energy is around 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt.

True, you do have to buy the solar panels and have them installed, typically around 16,000 or so for the average house, but if you get solar panels installed in your home this year, you’ll pay off the entire system in 11 years, (and more like 8 or 9) if the price of electricity purchased from a local power producer goes up.

Meanwhile, the solar panels you have installed on your home today will typically be actively producing electricity for a solid 25 to 30 years.

Let’s assume, the panels effectively stop functioning at 25 years. That’s 14 years’ worth of free electricity at a total savings of around $20,000.

And actually, counting government rebates, currently set at 26 percent of the cost of installation, as well as local and state rebates, the average homeowner with solar probably saves around $30,000.

That’s not to mention that if the power grid goes down in your area, which could happen in any part of the country, the lights, the air conditioner, the washing machine, and the refrigerator at your house will still be humming along.

You are much less a slave to power shortages if you have your own electricity to generate.

In addition, other homeowners have figured this out too. So when it comes to selling your home. According to real estate experts like Zillow, homeowners typically get a 4 percent boost on the selling price of their home if they have solar.

So if you sell your home for $300,000, not only will you get virtually free electricity for a number of years, but you’ll get an additional $12,000 or so just in the selling price of your home.

Nobody can guarantee that we will not have an energy shortage and skyrocketing prices on energy in the future. So it makes total sense to invest in solar.

Finally, if you make more solar than you actually use, you can turn around and sell that electricity to your local power providers.

Of course, you do need to have the money to invest in solar, and if you have to borrow money to get solar panels installed, then the above numbers will be skewed.

Nevertheless, it’s rare that investing in solar will not pay off for most homeowners.