Four reasons to go solar now

Now more than ever is the best time to install solar power on your home or building. As photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal technologies continue to grow, the costs associated with installing solar systems continue to drop. At the same time, the prices on your energy bill continue to go up because the prices on coal and natural-gas supplied power continue to increase. There are many other reasons to install solar now, here are just a few:

1. Incentives. Between solar incentives offered by your local government, your state, and those offered by the federal government, many home-sized PV or solar thermal installations can be done for about half the retail cost or less. But to make sure you get the most out of these incentive programs, it’s important to apply now. Most are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and funding for some of these programs is drying up quickly..

2. Production and efficiency gains. These are two more primary reasons to consider installing solar now. New technologies and renewed interest in the solar power market are driving important advances in solar technology. These include increased efficiency in thin-film PV. As of 2010, the average PV cell is able to convert about 12 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity. Thin-film panels are still somewhat less efficient than their silicon counterparts, but are making gains.

3. Solar power is cheaper now. New production techniques are making it much quicker, easier, and cheaper than ever before to produce solar cells. A report by the Solar Energy Industries Association, US Solar Industry Year in Review 2009, found that the costs of PV has fallen from more than $6 a watt in 1980 to between $1.85 to $2.25 per watt in 2009.

4. Pricing stability and net metering. After paying the initial costs of a solar system, the only payments you make are fixed payments for loans or assessments on your property related to the installation. A net metered system allows you to sell excess electricity generated by your system, further reducing the cost of your system and speeding up the payback time.