Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope for affordable Solar Energy???

Last night I was on my way to pick up the first part of my "new" closet organizing system which is being free-cycled to me by a friend who needed to upgrade and I caught a piece on NPR that gave me hope about solar power and lowering energy costs.

Solar incentive opens energy window

Clicking on the link above will get you to to the story where you can either read the transcript or listen to the produced piece. They are one in the same in case you were wondering if the transcription was condensed.

So when are we going to shout out to the rafters that we want this kind of program to pay out solar panels via our property taxes in Texas?? Granted, I'm an apartment dweller, so it wouldn't help me one bit, but I'm all for making things much easier for homeowners as then eventually, either I'll become a homeowner myself or some program will come along for us renters. I know I saw a person mention wanting a setup that would go in a window like a window A/C unit somewhere. There's an idea that would be Perfect for us apartment dwellers!


AltE Solar D said...

I think a lot of us are placing strong hopes that the Obama administrative will intelligently manage green fund/grants/initiatives and somehow magically avoid the big guys who have pushed their way first into line (utility companies, large contractors, etc) around the DC beltway for funding.

The initiative of getting renewable energy implemented in America has got to have at least two goals: 1) Create significant amount of jobs in an industry that will last 2) Not provide incentives that only upper middle and upper class folks can take advantage of.

Currently, many state run solar/wind energy system rebate programs for homeowners require that professional installers install a system. In general this is a good thing - systems that can almost assuredly be installed safely and successfully. The problem is that the mere costs of the installation can increase the system cost by anywhere from 30-300%.

So, who does this leave out? This leaves out Do-It-Yourselfers who may be really energized to do something green but may not have a spare $10k-$30k to pay a professional installer but do have the $5k-$10k to purchase the materials and do 90% of the install themselves (license electrician wrap up final hookup in PV systems or licensed plumber do same for solar hot water systems).

If we are really concerned about global warming, if we are really concerned about getting as many people as possible on renewable energy then we have to make policies which benefit a majority of the population and not just the few that have extraordinary financial means.

Last but not least, we have got to shift the focus from heavy rebates on solar panel(electric) systems which have the longest financial return on investment to solar heating technologies ( solar water heating and solar air heating for homes) which will have bigger impact for our tax dollar in reducing carbon emissions and lowering our monthly utility expenses.

A solar air heating system that can offset a homeowner 30% of their heating costs can cost as little as $1700 and be installed on a weekend by a group of handy friends. These are like the electric motor and batteries in a hybrid car - the use of them reduces the petroleum consumption, making the overall system much more efficient in effect.

Solar water heating systems are for the more advanced DIY'er but can offset from 50-70% of the energy needed to heat that home. Without a rebate program and installed by the DIY'er they will pay for themselves in 4-6 years, with installation costs that jumps up to 15-25 years!