Solar Panels: The Cheapest Source of Electricity?
The International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook and numerous research projects indicate that solar and wind energy have become the most attractive renewable energy sources currently on the market. Solar and wind energy are now being used to power millions of homes, businesses and utilities around the world and experts forecast that this trend will continue as both energy sources become more affordable over time. While the cost of installing solar panels continues to drop, is solar still one of the cheapest sources of electricity on the market?
Benefits of Solar Panels
Solar power holds a number of distinct advantages when compared to more traditional sources of electricity.
First and foremost, the cost of installing solar panels is now lower than ever before. For the average property owner, the initial cost of installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system can range from around $10,000 to 15,000 depending on the size, the supplier and other factors. Once installed, the overall cost of energy production is about 22¢/kWh, far lower than the average rate of traditional electricity sources.
Solar energy also offers more than just low-cost electricity. Solar is an infinite, renewable source of energy that is available in most climates and regions. Compared to oil and gas, solar will never run out and won’t need to be replenished. Solar also produces zero emissions, making it one of the least damaging forms of energy production.
Finally, investing in solar panel installation can offer long-term savings and reduce monthly costs significantly. Depending on the amount of sunlight the panels receive, the cost of electricity can be drastically lowered or even eliminated. In many cases, the average property owner can expect 10-20 years of free electricity following the initial investment.
Cost Savings by Investing in Solar Panels
The main way a property owner can save money in the long-term is by investing in solar panel installation. The installation itself can be funded by the property owner or by a third-party lender. Solar panels are now widely available and come in a variety of sizes and shapes, meaning the cost of installation will vary.
When installled, the property owner can look forward to monthly savings from their electricity bills. On average, a properly installed solar PV system can expect to produce around 1,500 kWh of electricity per year, depending on location, system size and other factors.
In addition to the direct savings of installing solar panels, property owners will also save money on ongoing fuel costs. Unlike other traditional sources of energy, solar panels are powered solely through the sun and do not require fuel or additional inputs. This means that each month, the savings on fuel costs can amount to a substantial sum.
Finally, government incentives are available to many people who decide to install solar panels. Homeowners, businesses, and utilities are all eligible to receive tax credits and grants from various government programs. The exact amount of incentives vary, but in most cases, it is possible to reduce the overall cost of the solar panel installation.
Disadvantages of Solar Panels
The cost of installing solar panels can be quite high, particularly for larger properties. Although prices have decreased substantially over the past few years, solar energy can still be expensive for larger properties.
In addition, homeowners should be aware that the amount of energy produced by solar panels depends heavily on the amount of natural sunlight available throughout the day. Extreme weather, such as cloud cover or extremely hot days, can reduce the amount of power produced.
Solar panel installation also requires that a significant amount of roof space be available. The size of the system, location and roof type all need to be taken into account when considering a new installation.
How to Get Access to Solar Panels
If you are considering investing in solar panel installation, you should start by assessing the amount of available roof space on your property. The number of available panels and the size of the installation depends heavily on the amount of sunlight that can reach your roof.
Once you have determined the amount of space and estimated the size of the system needed, you should obtain quotes from local installers and compare the costs of various packages from national suppliers. The exact cost of installation will depend on the complexity of the project, the size of the system, the brand of equipment being used, and other factors.
Overall, solar panels continue to be a reliable and cost-effective source of electricity. Investing in solar panel installation can offer long-term savings and reduce monthly costs significantly. As the cost of installing these panels drops further, it is increasingly becoming a viable alternative to more traditional sources of electricity.
Although the initial investment can be large, in many cases it can be offset by the long-term savings of installing solar panels. Property owners should do their own research to determine which type of panel and installer are the best fit for their needs.
For additional information on solar panels and other renewable energy sources, here are some online resources and contacts:
- U.S. Department of Energy: Solar Energy Technologies Office
- Solar Energy Industries Association: SEIA
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Renewable Energy
For further in-depth research into the question ‘what is the cheapest source of electricity?’, the following links provide useful information: