The Falling Cost of Solar Power Technology

18 Jun ’05

The NYT has an article on the falling cost of solar power:

In the 70’s it seemed that buyers of solar systems were mostly isolated tree huggers who somehow had a small fortune to spend on panels, but now urban and suburban homeowners are looking to the sun hitting their roofs for relief from rising electricity and heating costs.

Higher utility bills, though, are just the stick. The carrot is the falling cost of solar systems that are lighter and more efficient and feature new designs, like solar panels that double as window awnings. Standardized installations and economies of scale for equipment production have helped drive costs lower.

In moving toward the energy mainstream, solar expenses have dropped to around $8 a watt, from roughly $100 three decades ago; the cost is even less if a system is installed as part of a new home’s construction.

In either case, that puts the price of a system that can reduce electric bills significantly – like a three-kilowatt system – in the $20,000 range. That’s still a lot of money, but buyers may be able to get a lot of it back immediately, through government incentives. And with energy prices rising, the payback period for the rest is getting steadily shorter.

Check out Tyler Hamilton’s blog for more on clean energy.

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