At the center of our solar system, approximately 92.96 million miles away, is a nuclear power plant capable of powering the entire globe. We know it by its most common name: our sun. The sun’s diffuse energy can be used to heat water in thermal solar panels, or can be converted to electricity with photovoltaic (PV) panels. Since our modern society is moving towards using electricity for heating and cooling, transportation, communications, appliances and even entertainment, PV panels are the most expedient way to convert this solar energy to usable energy.
PV-generated electricity used to be expensive. But no longer. A typical solar panel generates about 400 kWh of electricity per year which, at $0.25/kWh (the average electric rate in California), amounts to $100 of electricity. With 20 solar panels on your roof you can reduce your annual electric bill by $2,000. Since each panel costs around $500 to install (including equipment and labor), the payback is only five years! So why can’t we run our nation’s electricity with solar power?
We can. Such an elegant and environmentally sensitive solution. But there are many people who are either in denial of solar’s ability to affordably power our economy, or have ulterior motives — usually these are people who have financial interests tied to the fossil fuel or utility industry. According to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Lab, rooftop solar has the potential to power almost 40 percent of the country’s total electricity needs — using only the roofs of residential/commercial buildings. When you consider community solar and ground mount installations we can easily generate 100 percent of total U.S. electricity needs. Still not convinced? Listen Up to the Energy Show on Renewable Energy World for the highlights of NREL’s report entitled “Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States.”
About the Energy Show
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
This podcast was originally produced by Cinnamon Solar and was presented here with permission.