The future of domestic power supply is here, and with it, the golden age of investment in solar has finally arrived. The privilege to utilize the sun’s rays at home is now a commodity that grew by 30 percent in the period from 2016 to 2017 alone. Its inversely proportional price-to-efficiency relation is working in our favor. As time goes by, solar becomes cheaper and more efficient. We are in the midst of rapid technological development vowing to support this trend. However, waiting any longer to go solar comes with a few responsibilities and a caveat.
- Environmental Responsibility
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Solar contributes only a fraction to the total power generation in the U.S. in a field still heavily dominated by fossil fuels. Doing away with these old habits is a multi-generational task, which makes it a priority by nature. Being the technological leaders, we are also the biggest greenhouse gas emitters per capita. And as we lead the development of efficient energy-harvesting methods, providing future generations with peace of mind is the next logical step. Solar energy is becoming more popular, especially in the country’s most hot, sunny regions.
- The Price/Efficiency Relation
Lured by its evident potential, researchers keep coming up with not only more efficient solar cells but also revolutionary ways to store the excess energy. Latest joint efforts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California in Berkeley successfully broke the 20-percent-efficiency barrier of solar cells. In the meantime, manufacturing, installation, and service prices keep plummeting, currently wobbling around $3 per watt, depending on the state.
- Payback Period (ROI)
Going solar is not just about buying a product or a service, but making an investment. And just like any other investment, monetary returns vary based on multiple factors:
- Monthly electricity bill before installing.
- Harvest potential, depending on the location of your home, position, available rooftop space, local climate, etc.
- Overall system installation cost.
- Federal and state tax breaks and incentives.
- Additional incentives and compensations.
Using simple calculation — the full installation costs divided by the annual electricity savings — we can find out the payback time. The average result for home systems today is less than eight years, but the detailed calculation depends on more variables.
- Secure Your Future
The current volatility of the international political climate affects — mostly negatively — raw material prices, insinuating maybe the most important reason to go solar: the cost of electricity in the long run, especially since its production price depends on at least a handful of factors. Numbers from the past decade clearly show a steady rise in the price of grid electricity for about 3 percent per year, on average.
The best way for this tendency to be reversed is by the wide adoption of renewable energy sources. Irrespective of how these factors may vary in the future, solar promises to keep growing as a safe and secure power supply solution, promoting reliable personalized energy consumption scheduling, planning, and storage.
- Energetic Independence & Sustainability
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Our current public energy distribution systems render a fairly fragile mass power supply, especially during extreme weather conditions, thus subject to intensity fluctuations and even prolonged blackouts. Latest technology advancement attempts are not limited only to efforts in reducing cost and improving cell efficiency.
Breakthrough technologies bring about more durable cells that experience little-to-no efficiency or quality degradation under snow, completely removing any potential risks of power loss stemming from mismanagement, or a crisis of the main grid. For the average citizen, this means full energy autonomy year-round, marking the beginning of an era of a highly sustainable utilization of renewable resources.
- Increased Overall Property Value
Likely one of the most passive benefits from going solar — the property value — is one that’s among the least considered. However, it’s the most praised factor in the long run. Driven by the practical necessity of renewable energy, as well as rising public interest, the market increasingly seeks solar-powered property. So much so, that it’s slowly becoming a basic requirement for many buyers.
This trend is backed by several new studies as well, showing that solar is poised not only to continue but to grow exponentially in the future. This is without even considering the aesthetically pleasing revamped designs that come up lately on the market.
- Tax Breaks and Incentives
In many states, the current financial climate allows for lucrative incentives for solar. If you generate more electricity than you consume throughout the year, the leftover power will be paid back to you, usually in credits. More importantly, the current generous federal tax breaks will not last for much longer. This is what makes now the best time to invest in solar and make full use of the benefits.
- Additional Incentives and Earning Potential
With the emergence of cryptocurrency and the rise of revolutionary monetary opportunities, additional options for financial benefits steadily appear on the horizon. There are already project proposals, aimed at bringing to life the idea to incentivize every owner of solar-powered homes.
While it’s true that this idea is still in its infancy, the first solar-backed cryptocurrency has already started to circulate around the globe. Another pioneering proposal calls for utilizing a decentralized power supply network of solar-powered homes that enables direct peer-to-peer sharing, storage, and additional earning possibilities just by generating electricity. All of this emphasizes the fact that there’s a lot of undiscovered follow-up potential of going solar, just waiting to be taken advantage of.
Missing out on any of the incentives now does not mean that installing solar panels afterward won’t be worth it. Also, while some of the aforementioned possibilities are just coming off the drawing board, they require no additional investment, so taking part in the chosen projects is almost void of all risk. However, considering that the price of the grid electricity will only go up in the future and disturb the ROI timeline, investing in your energy independence now is a win-win.
Also Read: International Solar Alliance