Improving your Home?
The cost of Solar Energy is coming down..... but the value added to your home is going up!

The cost of solar energy is coming down continuously, and this is great news for us DIY enthusiasts, as it means that we can add immense value to our homes, for "relatively little" cost!

There is a definite trend world-wide to convert to renewable, cleaner energy sources, and the forever downward spiral of solar energy cost is really making this a high priority on every DIY Home Improver's "To-Do-List".....

  • not only to add value to our homes,
  • but also to make a contribution to a sustainable, greener world.

As residential solar power setups are an expensive initial financial outlay, it is important that you know what you are getting yourself into and what the requirements are before you rush ahead and install your solar energy system.

Once you have decided to go "all-the-way" solar-wise, it is imperative that you do extensive research, budget, plan and do more research.....

so here I will explain to you what factors you should consider when you cost and budget for your selected solar energy system. 

What adds to the real cost of solar energy?

I will not try to give you the actual cost of solar energy system (read this page for a good indication of actual costs), but rather guide you in what to look out for, and how to compare different systems by looking at all the costs involved..... as each of us live in a different country with different rules and different incentive schemes (if at all).....

  • Hard Costs -

    We pay a lot of attention to the declining costs of installed solar panels, and I read recently that on average, the cost of an installed watt has fallen by almost 25% in the last year alone.

    This has largely been a consequence of falling "hard costs" - costs associated with the panels, racks and inverters.
  • Soft Costs -

    Soft costs like marketing, installation, financing, and permitting are also falling, although at a much lower rate. But this will gradually become cheaper as online processes and customer acquisition costs are made simpler and easier.

    Many countries have incentivised solar adoption through their long-term policies and this also helps to reduce the soft costs. Unfortunately this is not the case in South Africa, as our government insists on continuing with dirty energies like coal and nuclear power.

So when you compare different suppliers and different systems, take care to compare apples with apples!

The following will have an impact on the cost of your system:

  1. Ask your solar specialist to work out exactly what your energy requirements are and then to determine what size system you need.
  2. Then they must do an proper evaluation of your installation site as where you live determine how many sunlight hours you get per day.
  3. If shade will have an impact on the size of your system.

    Shade has a big influence on the effectiveness of your system and if your site will be affected by shade, then you may have to install more panels to get the required amount of energy for your requirements.
  4. How will you finance the system?

    - With Cash, or

    - Will you add it to your existing mortgage, or

    - Will you use some other means of payment?

    How you finance your system has an effect on the long term cost of your system and has an impact on you return on investment (ROI)!

Now that you know that currently drives the cost of solar energy, let's see what the future holds for the cost of solar energy.....  

What will drive the cost of solar energy down in the future?

Well, that is a very good question.....

There is a relentless drive by the industry leaders to increase the efficiency of solar panels. In other words, how well the photovoltaic (PV) cells convert the sunlight into electric power.

At the moment the average efficiency of a solar panel is around 15% or 16%, with here and there someone claiming to have reached an efficiency of 20%.

You can therefor see that a small improvement in the efficiency can significantly increase the output power of the panel.

And this is what will drive the cost of solar energy down in the future.

SunPower has a panel currently that has one of the highest conversion rates, at over 20.5%, with their new X series already on 21.5%; these are however projected to increase to 23% by the year 2015.

SunPower's Efficiency roadmap shows an overall efficiency improvement of 6 % (from 17% to 23%) over the eight year period till 2015. With that efficiency, you can get 60% more energy from the same space! And that is significant.....

In my humble opinion, the efficiency of the solar panel you select, is the most important factor any DIY enthusiast must consider in order to get the most "bang for your buck".

And as this increases in the years to come, the cost of solar energy will get still more and more affordable, and eventually, every home across the globe (where there is a reasonable amount of sunlight obviously) will make use of renewable, solar energy.

What I did here was to 
empower you with some background knowledge 
on what to look out for when you cost your solar energy system.

Return from the Cost of Solar Energy to DIY Solar Energy

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