The Bottom Line on the New Energy Economy
Solar Photovoltaics

Solar Panels: Tapping the Power of "We"

March 9, 2009
by Craig Severance

This past week I was on a panel at the Clean Power Finance Forum in Glenwood Springs, CO, and the question arose - why are solar panels becoming so popular?  The discussion was electrified with many possibilities for renewable energy here in Western Colorado, but most especially solar power.  

Western Colorado is one of the sunniest parts of the U.S,  and has already seen hundreds of solar electric and solar hot water systems installed on homes, businesses, and public buildings.  However, solar enthusiasm is not just a function of geography. Even much cloudier parts of the world, such as Germany, are experiencing widespread installations of solar panels.

The excitement for solar cannot be explained entirely by economics.  There are many other "green" ways to generate electricity that are less expensive than solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.  Wind farms on the Great Plains beat PV hands-down in any comparison of cost per kWh.  Micro-hydro turbines hold great promise, especially in a mountainous region with water literally pouring down from higher elevations.  Geothermal electric generation and district heating can be very cost-effective where that resource exists, such as Glenwood Springs, CO, where the workshop was held.   Even among solar-only alternatives, it seems that at least for now, solar thermal electric farms are likely to beat solar PV farms for many large utility projects.

Why, then, is there such enthusiasm for solar?  The answer becomes clear when you answer this question from the standpoint of the individual homeowner or business owner.  It is not just a question of what technology is adopted, but who can implement it.  

There are now millions of people who want to help solve the combined global warming, energy dependence, and economic problems, and people are looking for something they can do to reduce their own energy use and cut their own utility bills.  

Unless you own a large ranch like T. Boone Pickens, you are not going to be able to put a wind farm in your backyard.   You can't drill down below your property and generate electricity from hot rocks.  Unless you are a farmer, you won't be burining methane to generate clean energy.  However, the sun shines on us all, and it might very well be possible to install a solar hot water and solar electric system.  

Tapping into the solar resource, therefore, is a way of tapping into The Power of "We", as in "We Can Solve It", or even "Yes, We Can."  Solar energy is something that a great many of us can do,  

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Business Solar System Pays For New Hybrid

March 2, 2009
By Craig Severance

Our 10 KW photovoltaic system for my wife’s office is not only paying for itself -- but also generated enough extra cash flow to buy us a Prius. If you are a business owner thinking of installing a new solar system for your business, here’s how:

Click here to read entire Article.






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