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Clean Power solar power roi

Published on October 25th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Power: Highest Return on Investment of Renewable Energy Options

October 25th, 2011 by  

Solar power, as I’ve reported more times than I can count, has seen rapidly dropping costs in recent years. Also, with a lot of suppliers elbowing for a place in the market, prices have come down even more. A new report released by SBI Energy finds that solar power has the best return on investment (ROI) of any renewable energy option. (Reminds me of the 1BOG NJ solar power versus stock market ROI infographic below from 2010.)

solar power return on investment rocks

The cost of solar power is projected to reach $1 per watt by 2020 and the payback time for a typical solar power installation has come down to 3-5 years (from 7-10 years not long ago).

The cost of solar power is projected to be cut in half from 2020 to 2030, as well, making it $0.5 per watt by then.

Now, does that mean one should wait to install a solar power system? I certainly wouldn’t say so. Current government incentives may be dropped in the future, and if you wait to go solar, you might also miss out on the money you could be making in just a few years time.

But this is a global report, and the best thing you can do to determine your best choice right now is look into the solar energy government rebates available to you, see if you have group discount options (UK option, if you live there) or other innovative solar buying options in your area, and figure out what you would pay and how long it would take you to get that money back (from your much lower electricity bills or even payments from your utility company to you).

“During 2011-2012, we expect a short-term lull in the European Union PV market, primarily due to FiT rate cuts and regulations on farm land usage for ground mount installations,” states Arun Kumar, SBI Energy analyst and author of the report. “But this will be offset by installations in the high growth markets of North America and Asia, and China in particular.”

The new solar power report — which covers the PV component market (including a detailed analysis of PV cells, modules, wafers, polysilicon and inverters), historical developments in PV inverter markets, as well as growth, size, volume of business, and general trends in technological developments in the market — is titled Global Solar Inverters Markets.

Image Credit: 1BOG

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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  • Anonymous

    Good article! I was wondering what percentage of people might be holding off on solar, because one constantly reads that newer, better and cheaper PV’s are almost here? I like the comparison here to the returns of the stock market. One would wonder if you can use your 401k to pay for the purchase and installation? After all it is an investment.

    • Anonymous

      Homeowner solar is an interesting investment. If you live in a sunny place and have some state/local subsidies available you can find that rather than paying a big monthly utility bill you’re making a payment on a solar system. About the same amount of money.

      Then after a few years your solar system payments are done and you’re looking at decades of free power.

      And all the time you’ve been making fixed amount payments your neighbors’ utility bills will have been climbing.

      Stocks probably return a higher rate, but they don’t pay for themselves in the same way. And with solar you’ve locked in guaranteed returns, you don’t have the variability of the market.

      But, no, you can’t use them for your 401k. Do both, pay for solar with your electricity savings and fund your retirement with other money. And then when you’re a senior you’ll have retirement money and no electricity bill.

      • Anonymous

        Bob, thanks for your encouraging reply! At present in my case I think it is best that I reduce my useage first. I live in Florida, and my A/C unit is around 25 y.o. Also, I have a pool and the motor is wired to 110. The filter and motor are near the end of their life as well. So I plan to research if I can possibly get a pump/motor that runs on DC. It is located in a sunny spot, and I was thinking I could put panels there, for the sole purpose of running a pool pump.

        Also it looks as though a large part of the cost of solar is the inverter, and I wondering if it would be pratical to convert one’s home over to DC appliances, lights etc. It seems a waste to convert DC solar, to AC, then back again to charge your laptop, phone, etc.

        I don’t have a 401k, in my case it is an IRA, and I knew you couldn’t use funds for installing solar. But, it seems like an idea that might be worth legislating, if the payback is near what this article purposes, then it might be better for Americans to use these accounts to install solar, then put the energy savings back to the account.

        Now Bob, when do you want to come over and help me remove these 2 very mature Live Oaks on the south side of my house? 😉

        • Anonymous

          Reducing usage is always the best first step. ACs have improved. Lighting can eat up 10% or more of household power, start using CFLs and LEDs in your most used lamps/fixtures.

          In general it’s not best to use solar panels for only one use. If that device isn’t using power and the sun is shining you’re losing electricity. Why not put the panels on a rack in the sunny part of your lot and run the power back to your house? Mine sit out in my yard.

          While you’re doing that look into switching your pool pump to 240vac. That might save you some electricity.

          Switching your house over to DC isn’t worth the effort or cost. I know a lot of people who are off the grid as I am. Some of them used to run their houses on DC back when inverters weren’t very good and expensive. Now no one uses DC.

          Modern inverters and computer power bricks are pretty efficient. I wouldn’t worry about the loss.

          I might help you drop those oaks, I’m probably coming to J’ville this winter. But first I need to drop an 80′ Douglas fir that has put on an extra 10′ – 15′ after I mounted my panels and now it’s blocking one rack of my panels in the winter.

          My technique for dropping big trees is to cut them almost down, go inside, and wait for a big wind to finish the job. I’ve waited as long as two weeks. But I don’t have to worry about someone or their pet wandering into my drop zone. Don’t think you could get away with that in suburbia….

          • Anonymous

            Bob, My sincere thanks for the info about DC and inverters.

            I”m home for a few days, and your anecdote about your method of cutting trees has kept a smile on my face all day. I was wondering if you make up one of those squares, with 100 boxes in it, then go to the local bar, and have everyone place bets on day and hour the tree will fall?

            Yeah, I was jesting when I asked you to come and help drop the Live Oaks, it will require young strong men with hooks and belts to drop them piece by piece. I am no stranger to a chainsaw and dropping trees, but I am also wise enough to know when something is beyond my expertise.

            Oh course you are welcome to come visit me here if you make it south, as I can intuit that you have a vast wealth of knowledge crammed inside your cranium that I would love to exploit!


  • Paul Felix Schott

    Now if we can get the School in this Great Nation to Teach more on Solar Energy.

    When this Old World starts getting you down. From Pollution the cost of OIL,
    Heating Fuel,The Fuel you put in your Vehicles, You Electric Bills from
    cooling air conditioners and lights not to speak of the Evil. The TAX that all
    Governments Federal, State, County and City put on everything they can thing of.
    They are supposed to serve us. Not put a burden on its people. That they are
    elected to serve all the people you, not their own Pocket Books.

    The Wicked keep putting higher taxes on everything. Making it a Heavy
    Burden on many that are already struggling just to put food on the table.
    Too many Americans have lost their home to the tax collector or to foreclosures
    from the unjust bankers greed. More are out of work and lost their homes then
    in the GREAT DEPRESSION,in the last ten years. All Americans and many Nations
    need good jobs and more of them. Not more TAXES.

    There is a Industry that will employ workers and is growing by more then 50%
    every year. There is a clear way for all up on the roof the Sun Light is free
    fuel from GOD. Some wicked in Government have been backing Coal, Oil, Gas and
    the Nuclear industries for too many years. These kickbacks to them were called
    Subsidizing Industry Technology. Most all Wise Men and smart Economist and
    Environmentalists call this padding their pockets and subsidizing back to the
    Stone Age.

    This might even been funny in the 1960’s. If it were a Fred Flintstones and
    Barny Rubble Movie. About How to aggressively systematically work with the rich
    to Pollute Ground Water quality to the point it is unsafe to drink or use.
    So to they make a law you can only buy water from their pipe line. And to make
    the air we breath full of Toxic Gases, Sulfur Dioxide and more Radioactive
    and Acid Rain. Injuring all living things on Earth.

    With Fred Flintstones to the Rescue. To help create a Healthier Environment.
    For all Future Generations. By spotlighting Renewable Energy and Free Energy
    like Wind and Solar. On his and his neighbor Barny Rubble’s roof. Even though
    the greedy wicked would do everything to stop or slow them down.

    Just imagine a dream that a 100 years ago one of the smartest man to ever
    live had. A dream after working with Sun Light. That all on Earth would use
    Free Energy Solar Energy.

    That Dream also shared by a man that dreamed this over 2,250 years ago.
    Both These men showed the world in their days. That this dream of Free Energy
    Solar Energy World wide was very possible. Both of these two wise men had
    first hand worked and researched their experiments for not just days, weeks
    put for many years.

    One of these men used chalk on Black Board the others board was a black
    stone table or floor covered with white sand and used a stick. One of these
    two Brilliant men had Kings from all most every Kingdom on Earth come to him
    for advice.

    The other went to almost every nation on Earth. Freely on his own dime
    Teaching All that had ears to hear. He would win the Nobel Prize for doing so.
    For his work on Solar Energy. Only after years of doing research and when most
    Scientist on Earth would not take the nomination for the Nobel Prize in 1921 and knew
    it clearly belonged to this Brilliant Scientist, this Brilliant scientist was then awarded it in
    1922 for the 1921 year.

    Now if this was just a Pretend TV Show or a Movie from a dream. This would
    be a great Sci Fi Story Line. In the 1960’s or even better to day. Sci Fi story
    Movie or dream No.

    All that i Have told you did actually really happen. Albert Einstein won the
    Nobel Prize for what? When Government leaders asked him to go on stage. To
    address the Scientific Community and the World. About what he was given the
    Nobel Prize for. When Albert Einstein Had done so. He addressed them with his
    other accomplishments. For years most Governments did not have a ear for
    Einstein’s Dream.

    Archimedes around 250 B.C. was know most of the World over as a great
    Mathematician. One of the first Scientist and Inventor of many things. Even
    the first Laser Ray from the Sun’s Energy. Science Fiction is what you would
    have though you were seeing if you could go back in time, it was real.To day
    we call it The LASER, Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission. Back then it
    was just called Amplification of the SUN, Archimedes Death Ray.

    Thousand of years later it would be a Laser. That Albert Einstein help
    make possible. That would unlock one of the first books on Earth.
    The METHOD written by Archimedes. Then over more then 250 years later. When
    well Faded was cut from a scroll and put into a book form, to be easier to
    hide from the Romans by St. Paul. This book sold for over 2 million dollars.
    In New york at Christie’s Auction House.

    These two are at the top of the list of the World’s Greatest Scientists,
    Viewed by Scientist around the World.

    Sad that for the last 25 years or so of every teacher asked no matter what
    Grade k through 16. 80% of them did not know Archimedes. Even sadder 90%
    of them could not tell you what one of the most Brilliant Scientist to ever
    live on Earth. Won the Nobel Prize for.

    It was for the work Albert Einstein did to show the World it could get
    Free Energy, Electric from the SUN. PHOTOVOLTAICS

    You ask this question to any Military general 95% of them will get it right.
    Even more surprising 99% of them will know more about Archimedes then most
    Teachers on Earth. Generals know Energy is the key to Winning.

    At almost one thousand to one Archimedes always won against what all knew was
    impossible odds. Archimedes home town city of Syracuse was victorious against the
    greatest Kingdoms Armies on earth many times. Syracuse once was one of the most
    powerful cities in the World.

    I can only ask you to please look into Solar Energy, Solar Power, Solar Panels
    and Solar array on the internet under Images. To see and explore for your self
    then you be the JURY.

    More then 10 years ago the Internet became most of the World’s Universities
    Learning Platform. A Modern Day Archimedes Resource Center.

    The Solar Energy Industry in the year 2010 has leaped ahead farther and
    faster then any other industry on Earth. The Solar Industry in the
    United States of America alone, has grown by more then 50% in 2010 and it looks
    like that number will go up even higher this year 2011.

    The strong benefits of Solar Energy is Clear Clean Air viewed in major cities
    as improving air quality. Clean Cities. By all that use there brain for good .
    View it as protecting the environment and Freedom from OIL.

    While the Federal Government has eased the Tax on Renewable Energy till the end
    of this year 2011. Some cities in the states that these Legislators come from have
    worked against these tax credits.

    By doing so they are showing their true objectives. That they have stock in some power plants and do not want to lose all that Money they have been taking out of your pocket books for too many years. By taxing you on your Energy Bills. They want to Control Power and Tax Everything they can. Not let People be free to get their own power from the top of their own roofs.

    By adding their own taxes to them. These wicked leaders think that this will take away the incentives to harvest the Free Energy from the Sun.

    The Public ability and awareness for all on Earth to use the Natural Solar Energy, is Contributing to Production of Solar Energy Products. Making the Solar Energy Industry the fastest growing on Earth. A Wealth of Free Energy From The SUN.

    The more the wicked try to slow the Solar Energy Industry down, it only Enhances
    involvement and the efforts of the Good at Heart.

    GOD Bless you for reading this.

    The Lord’s little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

    through out History Many have tried to wipe the good from our history books.
    Read the Bible Jesus will Bless you more then i can.

    SolarWorld has been presenting a Einstein Award to personalities who have advanced the use of solar energy – and helped our Planet Earth.

    We all need to tell all our Teachers and Leaders to use our Nation’s Energy more wisely and efficient. Start to Teach all our Young about Renewable Energy Solar, Wind, and so on.
    Please print for all to see thank you

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