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The cost of solar power

Post in 'The Green Room' started by begreen, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Even I do the install myself I'm still looking at a 13 year payback, and that's if nothing breaks. I am encouraged with the new panels. When you start digging into it you realize there's still a lot they can do to lower the price. Right now the expected rise in utillity rates is right about what you'd be paying for financing, so there's no gain there.

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  2. stacyalmando

    stacyalmando New Member

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    Solar Power does not sound a great deal of money, so it seems the only real reason to install the system is for environmental purposes.A solar thermal plant would need a facility to store the heat harvested in the day by its sunlight-concentrating mirrors so that the heat could be used to generate electricity at night.
  3. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Might want to re-read the whole thread. It's not just about financial payback (which has been demonstrated is now under 10yr with incentives and gets better very year). There is also the environmental benefit, sure, but possibly most important of all is its an option to get us off fossil fuels before they run out.

    The storage issue is a well known problem. There is lots of research going into compressed air storage, hydro storage, flywheel, giant liquid battery banks, molten salt tank thermal storage, etc these days to address that. Or you have a very large very interconnected grid with a mix of solar, wind, hydro tidal and nuclear - where you can use the more regular hydro/nuclear to balance out the load.
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    True enough that solar is going to have to get cheaper yet to compete with wind (where it is persistent). But it has come down a lot in the past decade. Depending on the state one lives in, there are some very sweet incentives. I just read last night that Louisiana has one of the strongest incentive programs out there. There is a 50% state credit in addition to the federal credit. That's a whopping 80% off the system.

    I just checked because to me, going solar seems like a no brainer in the Sunshine state. There is a $4/watt rebate on top of the fed credit. With that kind of incentive, what are you all waiting for? (fine print: this is a first come, first served pool of money. Procrastinators are out of luck.)
  5. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    One of the issues that I see is that people with systems tied to the grid have the option to sell excess power to the grid, or "bank it" and draw out later, essentially using the grid as a battery system. However- most of my charges seem to be line usage, tax, bent knee fee, peanut shell discharge fee, etc. etc.- so if I stay on the grid and have a partial solution, then I save very little because my charges are not nearly proportional to my power use- so you have to go all out and go off the grid I think.

    On top of that, NH's incentives are pretty poor I think.

    Can anyone that knows this stuff comment?
  6. vvvv

    vvvv New Member

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    Germany has a different economic approach to stimulate home solar. If all had home solar balancing the grid might be difficult
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  8. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Wow! I really haven't looked in a couple of years- good to see that da 603 is gettin down with the incentives
  9. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    Hi,
    That does not seem to be the way it works here.

    I don't have any options on what gets done to the PV electricity I generate. I guess it goes to my loads first, and then any excess goes back out the the grid.
    When power goes back to the grid, it takes KWHs off my NET meter -- ie it runs the meter backwards.

    At the end of the month, if I have used more power than I generated, I get a bill for the net power I used.
    If I generated more power than I used, this gets rolled forward to be used for future month bills.

    At the end of the year if I have generated more power than I have used for the full year, then they zero out the books -- They don't cut me a check for the excess if I generate more power than I use for the year. For most people who put in PV, there is little to no danger that they will generate more power over the year than they use and not get paid for the excess -- most people use way to much power for this to happen.
    I sized my PV array (2150 watts) so that even if we do some more conserving and efficiency measures we may get down close to zero, but not below.

    There are some fixed charges on my bill -- it looks to me like if I got power use down to zero my electric bill would only be about $5 a month. This does not seem like a bad deal to me given that being on the grid has tons of advantages. The whole net metering thing is definitely a losing proposition for the utilities unless they are getting reimbursed in some way -- they are basically paying you retail for the power you generate.

    My last months total bill was $20 for 160 KWH for the month including fixed and power use dependent fees. That compares to our bills a couple years ago that were pushing $100 before we did the conservation and PV programs.

    Off-grid systems are appealing in living an independent life sort of way. But, they cost quite a bit more to put in, there are fewer rebates available, and the cost of battery replacement just about offsets any saving in power bills. That last one is what swayed me toward a grid-tie system --I can put in a grid-tie system and cut my power bill each month, or I can put in a off-grid system and see all my savings go toward battery pack replacement.

    We are in SW Montana and use Northwestern Energy -- I'm sure things vary around the country.

    The real story on the economics side is that conservation and efficiency really pay well, and grid-tie PV pays a bit if you can get good rebates.
    We cut our electricity use from 1000 KWH a month to 500 KWH a month for a little over $1000 for things like CFLs, power strips, and a new fridge.
    The PV array saves us about 300 KWH a month, and cost $6000 (with me doing the install). So, for Montana, no doubt what really pays -- PV is fun, but conservation and efficiency are what really save the money.

    There is a good site for looking up rebates on this page:
    http://www.builditsolar.com/References/energyincentivesrs.htm
    Its the DSIRE Database link.
    They have state by state rundowns on rebates available.
    The top link has some info on the federal rebate program.

    Our local utility has an information package on putting in grid-tie PV -- yours may as well?

    Our PV system:
    http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/PV/EnphasePV/Main.htm

    Gary
  10. denjohn

    denjohn Member

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  11. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    If we had Germany's weather it would be a lot easier to have their energy usage.

    They have mild winters and mild summers. When I lived in Germany we didn't have AC and didn't need it, and 30F was about as cold as it got.

    It's not a coincidence that the dramatic population growth in the South began when residential air conditioning became practical.
  12. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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  14. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    I got my electirc bill today from PSNH (NH's biggest utility), they have graph on the left side of the bill comparing last years usage with this years usage. According to the graph I used 324 kWh per day for end of July and early August the same as last year!

    They really dont have a good system in place for grid tied solar as in the same envelope is a credit for kW's as I generated more power than I used. I expect that when the computer sees neagative power usuage the default is 324 KW/day (hecks its only 9.7 megaWatt hours a month)
  15. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    I'm generally not in favor of net metering, but at least with PV it might not be that bad for the utilities. Retail electricity for a homeowner is usually much cheaper than peak power (retail price) and may be close to the wholesale price for peak power. Also the output is relatively stable and predictable, unlike wind power which must be a hassle for any utility that has to accept it under net metering.
  16. DaveH9

    DaveH9 Member

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    Solar hot water is expanding in a big way. Better return in most cases than PV. I put in my SHW system in 91, it had a very quick payback, around 5 years. I turn off my oil fired boiler in May and on in Oct. CT has a rebate for Solar Hot Water, other states do also. Then there is a 30% fed tax credit.

    PV prices have dropped significantly in the past 2 years. The payback is different by areas, depending on electric rates and rate structure , rebates, and tax credits. There is a 30% fed tax credit.

    I work in the solar industry, serving CT for PV and SHW.
  17. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Solar is starting to look good utilities keep raising prices and the Govt Keeps jacking up taxes. My Electric bill taxes is around 15% Very high considering state sales tax is only 6 %.

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