Are you looking forward to July? Of course you are, because you know that the 2014 Annual National Solar Conference is going to be held at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco, and that the ideas and concepts that the attendant experts toss around are going to take us as a society a few steps closer to realizing the dream of fully clean and renewable energy.
Ok, so you may not actually be ticking off the days on your calendar, but you’re probably still pretty happy about the possibility of not having to rely on coal and fossil fuels anymore. With more and more information regarding humanity’s negative impact on the environment coming to light, current and up-and-coming generations are more eco-conscious than ever before. And with continued advances being made in solar power, you can bet that the residential energy source of the future is going to be one that starts with the Sun. Here are three signs that residential solar power is the next big thing.
1. Solar technology is advancing
One of the main concerns surrounding the widespread adoption of solar power is its inefficiency. As of right now, Clean Power Research has found that the most efficient residential solar cells are those that are capable of reaching efficiency levels of approximately 20 percent, which really isn’t all that impressive. At the same time, current battery technology (which is a must for any solar-energy user who might want to turn on a light after the sun has gone down) is both expensive and environmentally damaging. However, you can’t stop progress, and recent advances in solar-energy designs and technologies are making cells that are cheaper to produce and more efficient to use. The invention of perovskite solar cells—which currently are capable of reaching 15 percent efficiency, but are expected to improve in years to come—and new advances in battery technology are all making usable solar energy more realistic.
2. Cost is decreasing
Do you know what it costs up front to install solar paneling on or around your home? Although the actual price varies widely from state to state, Americans who invest in solar cells generally end up paying on average $17,056 just to get the things working properly according to Clean Power Research. Yes, that sounds like quite a bit, but take a look at the whole picture. For one thing, in the year and a half between early 2011 and mid 2012, the average overall cost of solar in the U.S. fell 60%, and it looks as though it will continue to fall (as opposed to conventional fossil fuel costs, which only ever seem to climb). And lest we forget, solar energy also tends to reward those who use it. On average, homeowners who invest in solar energy save $84 per month, and a whopping $20,080 over the course of 20 years. Oh, and the government is willing to offer tax credits and rebates for homeowners who use solar power. So, if the rising generation wants to save money (which it obviously does), then solar power is going to be the only real option.
3. New options are becoming available
Still, even as costs are falling and technology is becoming more efficient, some homeowners just don’t have enough extra capital lying around to make that initial investment. Well, that concern is quickly disappearing as well. Certain companies such as SolarCity and Vivint are bridging the gap and offering solar plans that anyone can afford. They do this by “leasing” the solar energy to their clients. This means that the company pays for installation and maintenance costs, and then sells the resultant energy to the client at a significantly reduced cost. How reduced? Well, middle class families who lease solar energy have been known to save an average of $600 a year based on averages from Clean Power Research.
So, if you’ve got stock in conventional power, my advice to you is to sell it, because with all of the new advances surrounding solar energy, you can bet that the age of coal and fossil fuel is almost at an end. Maybe you should mark your calendar.