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Solar Power Cost Analysis

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    Solar energy is a renewable energy source that needs to be in every community. It has the capability to face the many challenges that the world faces. With the power source increasing every year in popularity, more people are coming to realize its versatile and the benefits solar energy has to people and the environment. In order for people to reap the benefits of solar energy, they should know how much to expect to pay for this technology to be installed, is solar energy technology something people will be able to afford and is upgrading the communities to solar energy worth the cost.

    Solar energy is the cleanest and most efficient energy source we have. Using solar energy to replace fossil fuels and still be able to produce the same energy we need to power our life seems like a no-brainer. One of the most popular solar energy technologies is solar panels. The solar panel has the tendency to reduce electric bills. The best way to figure out the cost of getting solar panels is to look at its price in dollars per watt.

    This cost is consistent across the United States. As of 2015, “solar panel costs in the United States had a range from $11,380 to $14,990 (after tax credits were applied). The average price per watt for solar panels ranges from $2.71 to $3.57 and the average U.S household system size is 6 kilowatts (6,000 watts), therefore the average gross solar panel cost is $18,840 (Energy Efficiency & Renewable sources, n.d.).”

    Utilizing a solar-estimate.org website will provide the individual who is seeking to install solar panels a step by step buying guide. The options are almost never-ending when wanting to install solar panels. With the way technology is advancing, solar panels have become less of an eyesore and now customized to what the buyer wants. Of course, when it comes to customizing what you want for solar panels, some products and customizations may be than the standard panels.

    When you review this website in your search for installing a cost-efficient product, you can expect to have to fill out where you live. Entering a zip code or home address is going to provide a company your geological location. They are also going to know what you spend on utility bills and who is your current electric provider. I assume this is to show you the cost of what you’re paying now in energy that uses up our environments fossil fuels and natural gasses compared to what you may expect to pay if you made the upgrade to solar panels (Solar Estimates, n.d.).

    The cost of upgrading to solar-powered technology is a massive concern and the main reason why people tend to not look into upgrading to a more efficient alternative than fossil fuels. Not only should customers not worry about the cost so much, but also look into the benefits it brings to their community. The Northwestern states offer a program called net monitoring. The goal and purpose of net monitoring are to provide residents and business with an easy way to upgrade to solar-powered electricity.

    This program works well because it allows customers to provide the additional power that was generated during the day by their installed solar equipment’s to be moved into utility’s electrical grid for distribution to other customers. Additionally, at night or when a customer is running low on power or just needs more power than their system is able to generate, then the building has the capability to bring in power back from the utility grid and supply them with the power they need.

    One of the best benefits of a net monitoring program is that it allows customers to install solar-powered technology in their homes without having to also install expensive storage systems. Additionally, this program doesn’t waste any unused generated power since it is distributed out to others that use it. For billing purposes, this program uses a duel readying meter. This purpose is so that the energy consumed by the owner’s home or the company, and the energy produced by the solar array’s usage can be tracked.

    This doesn’t mean the customer will be double billed, but the customer is billed only for what the net amount of electricity that is being used from the utility. This program can be found in the Northwestern States and laws in Montana require this program to be offered by utilities. Companies such as Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power also offer net metering in Idaho in agreement with the Public Utilities Commission rule (Renewable Northwest, n.d.).

    To give further insight into what it may cost to have solar-powered technology, home energy.guide has provided a breakdown of it, specifically in Michigan. According to the company Power Home, Michigan is one of the best places to have solar powered technology. However, the cost may seem unreachable for anyone who is not considered an upper-income family. A family may see a cost of roughly $32,000 upfront to install solar arrays.

    Power home is seeking out to change this, so the middle class may be able to afford solar array technology too. They seek to have the middle-class families to have to pay as little as $0 down. The ideal would be that homeowner would get solar panels on their roof and if they would also expect to have a reduced electric rate on their bills. Power Home Solar expects that it could save homeowners or business owners up to $2,400 a year on utility bills. Essentially, this saved money would be able to be spent on other essential bills. This particular Company utilizes training programs, numerous different federal and state incentives. Another strong provided comes from private investors and other companies (Home Energy Guide, n.d.).

    The government, utility companies, and other organizations want to solar-powered technology to continue to expand, so they are offer tax breaks and other federal incentives to male solar something that may be more accessible for homeowners who believe they are unable to make the upgrade. Since the release of these tax breaks and incentives, homeowners may expect the cut net cost of installing solar panel systems in their homes by an average of 30 to 50 percent. The option to lease the solar technology is also an option, but the homeowner wouldn’t be subjected to the incentives, but instead, the third party would.

    A solar tax credit that is known as the investment tax credit is provided by the Federal Government. This tax credit ensures that homeowners and businesses that make the investment will be able to deduct a percentage of the cost of their solar technology from their taxes. The homeowners and businesses that apply for the credit may be able to qualify for the federal tax credit. This includes, equal to 30 percent of the cost of their solar panel system minus any cash rebates (EnergySage, n.d.). Additionally, there are states that may offer further tax credits for homeowners or business that are installing a solar panel system.

    The state solar tax credit is similar to the investment tax credit, a portion of the cost of the solar panel system is deducted from your state taxes. However, every state is different regarding their tax laws. Lastly, of the many different ways to save for installing solar-powered technology for your home or business is cashing in on cash rebates. The best chance to do this is when the state, utility company, municipality, or organization are attempting to promote solar energy in their respective communities. Rebates may be limited as to when they are available and to what amount of solar has been installed, but this could result in 10 to 20 percent more in saving in the cost of installation (EnergySage, n.d.).

    The different types of solar cells that solar energy panels use vary in efficiency and in cost, so it depends on how much are you willing to pay for the increased efficiency. The two most common types of solar cells are monocrystalline and polycrystalline. These solar cells typically do the same, but the way they are manufactured are different. Monocrystalline solar panels are manufactured with silicon that is melted and converted into crystal cylinders. Afterward, the cylinders are cut into squared shapes, so they may be used for the solar cells in the solar panels. Monocrystalline solar panels tend to waste more silicon and may be more expensive then polycrystalline, but if you are looking for a higher efficiency panel then Monocrystalline is the way to go due to its high purity of the silicon used to form the crystal.

    Bringing solar-powered technology, such as solar panels, into every neighborhood is what’s best for our environment and for overall cost efficiency. Since solar energy is the cleanest renewable sources available, it allows a clean way to generate electricity. These reasons alone make it worth communities all around the world to make the investment and upgrade. Being able to eliminate air emissions that come from the burning of fossil fuels is a reason alone to help our environment make the upgrade. According to Interstate Renewable Energy Council, in previous data, the results have shown an increase over the years of what people are installing the solar technology for. This trend continues to grow as fast as new technology is growing (Renewable Northwest, n.d.). The graph below indicates the growth of popularity for the use of solar powered technology.

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