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View Diary: Nearly triple efficiency and lower cost: thin-film solar cell breakthrough (281 comments)

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  •  Interesting; however.. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raincrow, Roger Fox, Byblis, kurt

    ...the cost of the solar panels themselves are not the largest component of a solar power installation.  We just had a 3.4kW solar system installed on our roof, using 14 American-made SolarWorld 245W panels.  These are not low-cost panels, yet the cost of the panels was less than 30% of the total cost of the system, which includes inverters, racking, conduit and wiring, permits, labor etc.  You could give the panels away, and most people would still not put solar on their roof due to cost.  Considering that people don't stay in one house forever, it doesn't make a lot of sense to prepay for 25 years of electricity if you may not be around to get the benefit.

    Leasing schemes are becoming popular, in which the solar system is installed on your roof by a third party that owns the system, and to whom you pay for the electricity generated.  These deals are made possible by the current Federal tax credits, with the leasing company taking the credit.  Uncertainties about transferring the lease to a new homeowner and end-of-lease issues turned me off of this idea.  We don't plan to move again, so we decided to take the plunge and buy our system outright.

    I would like to see something like 'community solar power' or a solar co-op in which the solar system doesn't have to be on your particular roof.  Put the panels where they make the most sense and let co-op members offset their usage through 'virtual net-metering'.  The solar system is not part of your house, and you could move across town but keep your equity in the system.

    Just some random thoughts as I watch our power production ramp up this sunny California December morning...

    Obama is still my guy.

    by AKguy on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:05:32 AM PST

    •  Community solar would have (0+ / 0-)

      distribution costs and transmission losses (but the latter is free); and both access to community solar or having your own solar installation would add to the resale value of the house (although the community solar would distribute maintenance costs across the coop instead of putting the entire bill on you).


      by raincrow on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:11:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Transmission losses... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, Calamity Jean, mrkvica

        ...are built in to any net-metering scheme.  We are using the grid as a virtual battery.  What's actually happening is that during the sunny middle of the day, we are generating far more than we are using.  Electrons are flowing back into the neighborhood grid and being used by our neighbors who don't generate their own electricity.  Losses are happening.  At night, distant baseload generation is transmitted and distributed to us.  Losses are happening.  The more local solar that is installed, the lower the long-distance transmission losses during sunny times, whether the local solar is owned by a co-op or not.

        Increase in home value is iffy, IMHO.  Anything unconventional about a house reduces the pool of potential buyers, in my experience.

        Obama is still my guy.

        by AKguy on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 09:37:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Applies to all home improvements, but only (0+ / 0-)

      if they don't improve resale value.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

      by enhydra lutris on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:11:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, if this technology can be applied (0+ / 0-)

      to very small-scale solar panels, the sort you can buy to charge your cell phone or car battery, then the cost savings could be more significant in real-world terms. With personal electronics driving so much of electricity use these days and this technology's potential to offload some of it from the grid, it may help keep grid loads down. Also, the portability factor is another big plus.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 11:16:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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