If you listen to the politicians (and who does now days anyway?) solar panels and solar power are not important in the big scheme of energy generation in the USA. Of course, this is true if you only look backwards and put blinkers on so you can’t see what the rest of the world is doing. Politics is damaging for so many activities now days as it has become a negative and not the positive enabling force for progress that it was intended to be.
Fortunately though, what happens in politics is not what happens in the real world, for the most part and as free agents, we have the ability to make our choices and decisions as the politicians are not leading the nation,
but instead only reacting to what happens in the real world and how it affects their personal careers. Money talks and we need to use our resources in a way to create the positive change we all seem to want. In the case of solar that means that while politicians are bashing solar panels and the failings of companies like Solyndra, solar is in fact flying high and deemed for greatness over the next two decades.
Facts On Solar Panels.
To debunk the politics, lets start with the facts about solar panels. Last year over $1 billion was spent by consumers on installing rooftop mounted solar panels as another 52,000 home owners installed rooftop mounted solar panels according to the SEIA, the Solar Energy Industries Association.This growth in domestic rooftop mounted solar panels is up 30% from a year earlier and expected to grow another 71% this year. Growth will continue to accelerate as the price continues to rapidly come down! Compare that to what you hear on the news every day about the state of the economy!
Rapid Drop In The Price Of Solar Panels.
The price of installed rooftop solar panels has come down from $9 a watt in 2006 to around $5.46 a watt last year and by the end of 2012 will have dropped 75% in the past five years. This is the reason that a lot of solar companies are failing and it is not a bad thing at all. Unless a solar panel company is keeping up with the rapid price erosion, its products will quickly become uncompetitive and cause the company to collapse and be replaced by the more cost efficient ones. It was much the same at the dawn of the automobile era with Ford Motor Company bringing down the cost to produce a car with the Model T and the mass production lines of Henry Ford.
This fact should be the most shocking though. The amount of installed solar panels worldwide has gone up from just 1.5 gigawatts in 2000 to about 67 gigawatts at the end of 2011. What is shocking about this fact is how little of that growth has been in the most developed country in the world, the US and sadly that is due to the bungling politicians, more interested in squabbling among themselves for political points, like school bullies, and not agreeing on visionary and strategic initiatives to strengthen the nation and its competitiveness by providing strong clear incentives for the consumer to invest in solar panels and mandating the energy monopolies to make much swifter conversions to renewables and reductions in the environmental impacts. The lack of this sort of visionary action is how vested interests and lobby groups are distorting reality. There is no need though to put up with this. Today, as consumers, we have a choice. We can invest in solar panels to produce our power requirements at home.
The Potential Of Solar Panels
The US Census Bureaus data shows that there are 100 million US residential units that could physically install roof top solar panels one day which would generate around 3.7 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. The total electricity generated from all sources was 4 trillion kilowatt-hours. With energy savings such as LED light bulbs and energy efficiency savings such as better insulation and Energy Star Rated appliances it is quite conceivable that US homeowners could cover and produce enough electricity to power the nation from their rooftop solar panels and effectively dispose of or cut the role of all the power stations which consume 49% of the nations fresh water and produces around 34% or 2.3 million metric tons of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the USA every year!
What does that mean for you?
Imagine If We All Invested In Solar Panels.
It is a smart investment. Installing rooftop solar panels would be like a hedge against your increasing electricity bill where you would be locking in your power costs at about $2 a watt today. With this, you are looking at savings of $50-100,000 over a twenty year period. That is already a better investment and cost saving than you could find anywhere in stocks and bonds! Think about it, the chances of you winning that big on the stock market are at best extremely high risk, since installing the solar panels are extremely low risk and can be insured to control the risk even! The utility companies, shareholder owned, which today means mutual fund company owned not person shareholder owned anymore, for the most part hate this because it is messing with their hundred year old profit model. However for the individual homeowner, it is like magic. As you hedge your energy costs meaning hold the costs at this years prices instead of having to pay for the continuous increase of around 8-10% a year that is predicted over the next two decades, by installing rooftop solar panels, you are also doing a few other things.
Withdrawing your dollars from the traditional monopoly power generation system, causes the for profit utilities companies to review their strategy of investing more in fossil fuels and start to listen to what their consumers want. This is an important regulation role that the consumer can take over much more effectively from the government as the utilities companies are mainly government mandated monopolies in most states or counties and not interested to do the right thing when it means less profit for their investors! Your decision to invest in a solar panels will also have a positive effect on the trade balance as we will import less oil and coal as the demand drops so you will also help to cut the US balance of trade deficit and by reducing your cost of living, will make yourself more competitive versus workers in other countries by holding your cost of living down.
As a domestic roof mounted solar panel investor you can become a very positive force for change for the environment as well as your personal cost of living over the next 20 years. By reducing our need to import fuels, you will be contributing to improving our national security through less dependence on doing business with hostile and unstable foreign countries. In addition you will have voted, using the withdrawal of your dollars from the energy system, for cleaner energy production and saved at least 34% a year of our fresh water that is rapidly becoming more scarce, even in the USA.
Power generation by traditional fuels such as coal and gas are one of the largest contributors to the high level of CO2 emissions in the USA (6.8 million metric tons in 2010). In a recent study over 80% of Americans said they were concerned about our environmental impact on the planet. To improve that environmental impact, already the highest in the world by more than 5 times the developed world average at about 50,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per person in the USA, we can dramatically cut it by about one-third or 2.3 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year by shifting from fossil fuel power stations to roof top solar panels.
Federal Government Incentives Already In Place.
As if this were not enough, the federal government is offering a 30% rebate on all solar power panels domestically installed UNTIL 2016! DON’T MISS OUT ON YOUR OPPORTUNITY! In addition many states offer further state sponsored rebates so the government is not all bad! Just a lot less good than in European countries!
Sadly, besides all the positive surrounding the growth of Solar, there is still more that can be done and this is definitely true in the area of state caps on the amount of solar that can be put back into the grid, though not a problem at the moment for most people and states.
Send A Strong Signal Of Intent
Whichever way you cut it, investing in solar panels sends one of the strongest signals you can to the government and the rich shareholder companies that you are no longer going to play their game. For this reason, solar panels are being seen as a major game changer for the US over the next 20 years and it is not surprising that the politicians are bashing it so hard. To give you an example of just how far solar can go, in Germany where the installed solar capacity has grown very fast, for 2 hours one sunny day this summer, solar-powered all of Germany’s power needs and in the words of Ray Anderson, a pioneering business person in sustainability, if there is already an example, then it must be possible for all!
Now that’s what we call power to the people! Don’t be a victim of the present US political systems paralysis, install your own rooftop mounted solar panels now and show your commitment to a better future.