Solar energy is one of the most cost-effective, clean and abundant energy sources in the world. In recent years, the solar industry has experienced significant growth, with total global installed photovoltaic capacity reaching 558 gigawatts by the end of 2020. Many people are turning to solar energy to reduce their electric bills and increase their home’s value. However, a number of factors may prevent people from switching to solar panels.
Overview of Solar System Industry and Cost Savings
Solar energy systems consist of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into electricity that can be used to power homes and businesses. The cost of solar installation has decreased significantly in the last few years, making the technology more accessible to people of all income levels. In addition, solar panels can save money on electricity bills over the long term.
In the United States, the costs of installing solar for a residential system with 5-kW capacity is $15,000 or less. The amount of energy produced can vary based on the geographical location, system size and features. For example, an average 6-kW solar system in California with no time of use billing can generate an annual savings of $1,200.
In recent years, the technology involved in solar energy has also improved significantly, including the introduction of roof integrated photovoltaics, floating solar systems and bifacial cells. These innovations have enabled solar panels to fit into high-end residences and businesses, further reducing the cost of installing systems.
Reasons why People are not Buying Solar
Despite the availability of solar systems and the potential cost savings, some people are still hesitant to switch to solar. The most common reason is the high upfront cost, which can be difficult to pay in one lump sum.
Space restrictions are also an issue for some households, as their roofs may not have the capacity to accommodate a large enough system to make a noticeable difference in energy costs. Furthermore, some people may be discouraged by the relatively low return on investment for solar panel systems, with payback periods of 10-15 years.
Finally, some people may be concerned about the environmental impact of installing solar panels. The production of photovoltaic cells involves toxic materials and generates large amounts of waste. Additionally, they require enormous amounts of energy to manufacture and transport, resulting in potential emissions of greenhouses gases.
Solutions to Make Solar Panels More Accessible
Fortunately, governments around the world have implemented tax credits and incentives to offset the costs of switching to solar. In the United States, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offers a 30 percent federal tax credit to homeowners who install solar. This program has been instrumental in lowering the costs of solar installations for homeowners.
In addition to government subsidies, technological advancements have also helped to make solar more affordable. Increasing the efficiency of PV cells and reducing the cost of components have resulted in an average cost reduction of 41 percent over the last decade. Furthermore, solar companies are now offering innovative financing options, such as leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs), that can help make solar more affordable.
Moreover, companies have introduced products and services that utilize unused roofs and walls, such as solar canopies, carports and facade systems, to maximize the amount of solar energy produced. These solutions are especially attractive to homeowners as they require minimal disruption to existing structures and can be installed quickly.
Potential Benefits of Switching to Solar
Using solar energy can offer many benefits to homeowners and businesses, including increased home value, reduced environmental impact and improved energy independence.
Switching to solar can increase a home’s value by up to 4.1 percent, according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The value added is higher in states with higher electric rates, such as California and New York.
Solar systems also help reduce air pollution and conserve natural resources. Nearly one-third of the total electricity generated in the United States is from coal-fired power plants, which emit more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. By switching to solar, individuals can reduce their reliance on these types of power sources, thus decreasing emissions and conserving natural resources.
In addition, solar systems can provide households and businesses with improved energy independence. Time-of-use plans give people the ability to store excess power and use it later, during peak demand hours. This reduces the need to rely on conventional grids and provides users with greater control over their energy supply.
Summary and Conclusion
Installing solar energy systems can offer a number of benefits, including energy cost savings, increased home value, reduced environmental impact and improved energy independence. However, many people may be deterred by the high upfront cost and other factors, such as space restrictions, low return on investment and environmental concerns.
Fortunately, governments around the world have implemented tax credits and incentives to offset the costs of switching to solar. Furthermore, innovations in solar technology and the utilization of unused roofs and walls can help make solar more accessible to more people.
SWitching to solar is becoming increasingly viable and accessible, and this trend is likely to continue in the coming years. With the right government assistance and technological improvements, solar energy can become an even more attractive investment for homeowners, businesses and governments alike.
Resources and Further Reading
Gehrke, F. (2021). Solar Energy Cost, Financing, and Benefits. EnergySage. https://news.energysage.com/solar-energy-cost-financing-benefits/
Solar Power Europe. (2021). Paving the way to our renewable future: 2020 global solar power market trends & developments. Solar Power Europe. https://www.solarpowereurope.org/reports/global-market-outlook-for-solar-2020/
U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2021). Residential Solar PV Systems. U.S. Energy Information Administration. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/pv-solar/residential-solar-pv-systems.php