Saturday, March 26, 2011

solar prices are falling

we're pleased to present this guest post by friend of tin box, Bradley Stark:

Solar is now cheaper than nuclear with NO incentives.  

FPL is trying to build 2 new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, for a cost of $16 Billion.  These costs are allowed to be and will be passed on to us, the electricity users.  So buy solar and do not contribute to the risk and costs of nuclear power.  Contact your city officials. county officials, state officials and then finally your Washington DC officials.  I suggest this order because this is the order in which you have a chance to influence policy.  Congress has done as much as they can with 'The Madhatter and White Rabbit' running wild in Congress.  Tallahassee has already passed legislation stating that 'nuclear is our future' and the new GOP dominated legislature is actually REPEALING solar incentives and RECs Program (Renewable Energy Credits) which is on the books but not implemented and moving to nuclear and Bio-Mass (read agriculture-polluting give away).  But your city and county officials CAN make a big difference, so start here first, but contact them all.

Why to install solar now:

1-Public Service Commission analyst confirmed to me that industry prices for solar panels have fallen but are likely to increase in price next year.  The reason is that the industry is selling off a backlog of panels that were ordered but not used during the housing bubble.  Thus in the short run perhaps we have another year of lower prices, then perhaps a bump up in prices....eventually followed by a technological evolution that will bring prices down over the long run.
2-FPL is rumored to offer a limited amount of solar panel incentives sometime this year.
3-Federal incentives of 30% tax credit expires in 2014
4-As more installers come on line, prices are falling.  I have 2 offers to install for $5 a watt BEFORE incentives.  Obama's goal is solar for $1 a watt installed by 2020.  Thus if with incentives if I pay $2 a watt today that is pretty good.
5-Mage panels can withstand 113lbs/sq ft of pressure.
6-Your greatest risk is with installers.  Few are competent, so you need to 'kick the tires' and demand a 10 year warranty of installation and ask lots of questions. 
7-At current rates your system should pay for itself in roughly 7-8 years, giving you 22-23 years of free power since most panels have warranties of 25-30 years.


  1. Solar cells work best in direct sunlight. If most of the south facing roof space is covered by nice large trees a photovoltaic system is not going to produce much electricity. Baldo also says that this technology could be used to improve the output of existing panels.