Solar Power Surges in Popularity

Solar panel on a house

Using solar power is becoming more and more viable, thanks to cuts in cost and the general public’s understanding that the sun’s energy is plentiful and capable of being harnessed more efficiently than electricity. The Associated Press reports that solar panel installations are predicted to double this year, as they did last year. The AP also cites Andrew Beebe, who is in charge of marketing for Suntech Power. According to Beebe, “We are at the beginning of a turning point.” 

So, how do solar panels work? Photovoltaic cells in the panels collect sunlight and then convert the sunlight into electricity. This is made possible through various silicon solar cells. 

Unfortunately, the Energy Information Administration explains that solar power is still an expensive choice; it currently is about three times more expensive than electricity that’s formed through natural gas. Still, current costs are much lower than they once were. According to Arno Harris, CEO of Recurrent Energy, “Over the past ten years, the industry has made the case that we need to increase scale so we could reduce prices. . . . We’re seeing it happen.” 

And now, homeowners have more incentive to turn to solar paneling to energize their homes. There exist a handful of companies that don’t require upfront payment for installation of the panels. Instead, they charge monthly for the power that’s generated from the paneling. One such company that offers the monthly charge is SunRun. 

And while these companies are able to turn over a profit, consumers ultimately save on expenses because solar paneling is more efficient than traditional electricity. It’s a win-win situation that is becoming increasingly attractive for the consumer. Now, you don’t have to come up with thousands of dollars to install the systems yourself, and the installation isn’t much more complicated than your typical garage door installation. 

Solar panels continue to decrease in overall price, themselves. Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that in the beginning of 2010, solar panels sold for $1.90 per watt and this past September they were selling at $1.34 per watt. Just several years ago, they were selling at $4.00 per watt! 

Improvements have been made, and as more and more people become aware of the advantages, companies will be able to lower costs even further. What are your thoughts on solar paneling? Do you have them installed in your home, and if not, is it something you would consider implementing? 

Photo credit:AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by rdmarsh

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Chris Keenan is a green and general blog writer. Chris also maintains a personal cooking blog .

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