Solar Energy is Cost-Effective Now

by free electron on April 28, 2007

solarIn Solar Revolution: The Economic Transformation of the Global Energy Industry, Travis Bradford writes about how solar energy is cost-effective now. I watched a presentation he gave at Microsoft. He has the street cred to pull this off since he is not a hemp wearing hippie, but rather a former private equity and hedge fund executive. He understands numbers. He can analyze and interpret them.

One of the fascinating points that shows that the devil is indeed in the details is that peak energy use is during the day. And since I wrote in an earlier post about how businesses use more energy than homes, it makes sense then that more energy is consumed during the day when most of us are at work. Peak energy costs more to produce because less efficient generators are put in place to meet peak needs. Some business customers are charged at the higher rate during peak times. Here is the a-ha! realization that is so obvious: Solar works during the day. Compared to peak rates, solar is cost-effective. And since the least efficient generators probably also pollute the most, there is a double gain.

Mr. Bradford also discusses the numbers behind the cost-effectiveness of solar. He shows (and I am not going to try and replicate his financial reasoning) that most current analysis on solar energy’s cost effectiveness is not accurate. He shows the flaws in current thinking which if it gets enough exposure could increase the demand for solar.

Since this was a Microsoft talk, I had to watch it using Internet Explorer, but the good news was that the presentation had a talk faster mode which made it take significantly less time. It also showed the presentation slides and Mr. Bradford talking side by side. I like that a lot better than standard webinars.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

David May 4, 2007 at 7:25 am

This may interest you and your readers.

According to some newly released research, PV solar panel use in homes is due to soar in the next five years:

The Growth of Photovoltaic Solar Energy for Home Use

But you all knew that, didn’t you!


gloria May 15, 2007 at 4:35 am

well i think that this website is very useful. i have learnt lots from it. thanks 4 da useul info!!!!!!!!!!.

James February 10, 2008 at 9:51 pm

So…is anyone here actually running their house and vehicles off of solar power then?

I don’t think so.

Is Travis Bradford?

Why is that?

Steve Rush February 13, 2008 at 4:55 am

The last time I looked, the interest on what it would cost to go off-grid exceeded what I pay for grid energy. That didn’t even consider depreciation (batteries aren’t forever), the likely increase in my insurance premium, or the jump in my property tax assessment. I haven’t run the numbers, but I suspect that even if somebody *gave* me the PV panels, I still couldn’t afford to go off-grid.

Jeff May 3, 2008 at 4:51 am

The fact is that every energy source except solar is subsidized. Oil is the most subsidized when you consider security costs and depletion.

But, the Sun comes up every day (and if it doesn’t then we’ve got bigger problems than energy needs). Electric companies have been subsidized since they were first mentioned in law.

We simply need to give more money to solar lobbyists so that they can buy the right politicians. Unfortunately that means they have to have bigger pocketbooks than the oil industry. Not likely to happen for another 50 or so years.

Brittany April 14, 2009 at 6:16 pm

So you think solar power is the way to go?

Brian December 6, 2009 at 2:11 am

With the current efficiency rating of photo-voltaic cells and the government paying you back up to 50%, and then allow for power company benifits which are very substantial. With the rate increases which WILL take place every year, APS was 7% over 2008. You could see a return easily in 7 years, after which you would continue to save more money each year. Go figure then because 30% of the people have solar the electric companies will have to raise rates even more, you know the old supply and demand thing, but not to worry you invested early !

Dave Simonson April 27, 2010 at 10:41 am

I recently got an estimate to have solar panels installed at my home. In five to seven years the system will pay for itself. The life of the system is 20-25 years. That sounds really impressive until you consider that the real ROI without government subsidies and those shadowy solar energy credits is probably closer to 12-15 years. Then add potential maintenance costs. WOW! That’s not a low price! And that is a system that feeds directly to the grid. In other words, the grid is your battery. I wanted solar in case something happened to the grid. What most places are willing to sell me, won’t work if the grid goes offline. Great.

andrew May 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Im srry but solar panels are too expensive and i dont believe that they have developed solar panels to a point where all the problems are worked out, or even most of the probs for that matter.

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