Solar energy – a new look at an old option
Everyone knows about solar energy…but, not so many people are aware of the radical changes in solar technology that have taken place in the last few years.
Solar energy now costs between 4.5 and 7.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s a tenfold drop over previous costs.
Other forms of electricity generation can cost 33 cents per kilowatt-hour – or more. Considering significantly reduced costs plus the environmental benefits of solar energy, it’s obvious why families, business owners and public officials are embracing this energy option.
As solar technology changes occurred, policy also changed. Now, there are tax incentives and programs of various types that provide even more cost savings. Some utilities (both public and private) now have mechanisms that allow ratepayers (residential and commercial) to produce their own energy using the sun’s rays.
Forbes attributes the fall in the price of solar panels to offshore production. China is a leading producer of photovoltaic panels. Although foreign manufacturing does not benefit American industry, the difference in price provides more collaborative options for energy producers and consumers.
The state of California offers cash rebates to residents who install solar panels for use in their homes. Businesses get the same consideration. Not only are future energy costs reduced, but the air is also cleaner and the environment is more pristine as a result of solar technology.
Tennessee has taken a more research-oriented route to clean, low-cost, sustainable energy. In 2009, the governor vowed to make Tennessee a “leader in the clean energy sector.” As part of his plan, the Tennessee Solar Institute was created along with a five megawatt power generation plant. Solar energy generation is common in Tennessee and the state is one of the leaders in sustainable energy production.
Other states such as Minnesota and Pennsylvania also offer incentive programs. Residents receive rebates after installing solar panels and there are benefits and incentives for both government and industry to do the same.
As the price of photovoltaic panels continues to drop, consumers are likely to totally change the way power is generated in the United States. Although only 1 percent of America’s households use solar technologies today, that is destined to change significantly in the very near future.