Dirty Energy & Fuel solar-power-growth

Published on November 1st, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan

65

Go Solar (Going Green Tip #9)

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November 1st, 2010 by

solar power growing go solar

As I’ve already discussed in this “Going Green Tips” series, one of the most important things we can do to go green is cut the coal. Cutting your use of air conditioning, especially if you live in a hot climate, is one great way to do so, as is switching to LEDs or getting a home energy audit (or both). However, if you want to go a step further on this home energy front, one of the first things to consider is going solar.

How to Go Solar

There are many options for going solar. Many people just think about the option of buying solar panels on your own, but there are others as well.

You can:

1. lease solar panels (it’s now the most popular way to go solar in California),

2. own part of a community solar garden (or participate in some other solar hosting option),

3. build solar panels yourself,

4. steal them from your neighbor (just kidding!),

5. finance a solar installation with PACE financing (if it’s available in your area),

6. (again, if it’s available in your area) just buy renewable energy credits instead of dirty energy from your electric company, or

7. buy your solar panels — across the United States, Admirals Bank now offers a $0 down solar loan.


Why Solar is Green?

It is quite common knowledge that solar power is greener than most other options. The main environmental benefits of solar are that:

1. Solar energy doesn’t emit greenhouse gases or other pollution (although, a very, very, very minimal amount is emitted in the production of solar panels). Solar and wind are clear winners when it comes to global warming.

2. Solar energy, especially solar PV, uses very little water.

Of course, solar panels are not made of air, and some parts of both the product and process are not so green. Luckily, independent bodies are evaluating solar power companies and promoting best practices in the field.

In the end, going solar is one of the greenest things you can do, so consider going solar now, while costs are at an all-time low and great government subsidies are available.

Connect with me on Twitter @zshahan3 or Facebook or StumbleUpon or Google+.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • Roshana Ariel

    I’d like more information about getting a loan for solar panels (residential). Thanks!

  • Roshana Ariel

    I’d like more information about getting a loan for solar panels (residential). Thanks!

  • Domhnall

    Zach……….do you know of solar incentives in Canada?

  • Domhnall

    Zach……….do you know of solar incentives in Canada?

  • Benjamin Pond

    Solar City has FINALLY expanded to the east coast!!! PPA no costs!
    Contact me for more info, a consultation or to schedule a site audit to see if you qualify!
    Bpond@solarcity.com

    • ronwint

      Ha that’s a laugh. You mean PPA with no upfront cost but higher overall costs than a purchase. http://vimeo.com/92203019

  • Benjamin Pond

    Solar City has FINALLY expanded to the east coast!!! PPA no costs!
    Contact me for more info, a consultation or to schedule a site audit to see if you qualify!
    Bpond@solarcity.com

    • ronwint

      Ha that’s a laugh. You mean PPA with no upfront cost but higher overall costs than a purchase. http://vimeo.com/92203019

  • Rick

    DEFINATELY not worth it. The figures for my house would take me over 22 years to break even! And that is not considering inflation or maintenance costs (which I’m sure there will be). Also, I’m sure these figures are for optimal conditions. Meaning, I would have to be cleaning the panels constantly to maximize the amount of solar energy being collected. They need to MAJORLY reduce the cost of these systems before more people can afford, let alone, consider them cost effective.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Wow, that’s extremely uncommon.

      You’ve checked recently? You know the costs have come down ~50% within the past few years, right?

      Curious what kind of odd situation you have.

  • Rick

    DEFINATELY not worth it. The figures for my house would take me over 22 years to break even! And that is not considering inflation or maintenance costs (which I’m sure there will be). Also, I’m sure these figures are for optimal conditions. Meaning, I would have to be cleaning the panels constantly to maximize the amount of solar energy being collected. They need to MAJORLY reduce the cost of these systems before more people can afford, let alone, consider them cost effective.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Wow, that’s extremely uncommon.

      You’ve checked recently? You know the costs have come down ~50% within the past few years, right?

      Curious what kind of odd situation you have.

  • Flip Snap

    Generate your own electricity and save money. We show you how http://www.electricidad-gratuita.com/Curso_Solar_Fotovoltaica.html?hop=99189918

  • Flip Snap

    Generate your own electricity and save money. We show you how http://www.electricidad-gratuita.com/Curso_Solar_Fotovoltaica.html?hop=99189918

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  • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

    Got some posts on some of these matters coming up on cleantechnica.com in the coming days. Keep an eye on the content over there.

  • Daniel Ferra

    “Examples of how they (and our complicit energy “experts”) have been “slowing the process” are:
    (1) Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) which create de facto caps on the deployment of renewable energies. Here in Nevada, because of poor design, our utility went out and bought a ton of RE credits (RECs) (mostly from Idaho) such that they are now complainant with the state RPS through 2018 or so. (The Germans don’t have any RPSs. Their FIT program is open ended, the more capacity, the merrier!)
    (2) Net-metering caps. Most states only allow a small percentage of one to two percent of peak load to be net-metered. There are exceptions however. Colorado, for example, has no aggregate capacity limit. However, most states do. In Nevada, it’s set at two percent. Net-metering, therefore, will certainly “hold back the clean energy tide.”
    (3) The third party leasing rent-to-own outfits like Sungevity, but more importantly, Solarcity, which just went public with an IPO, fight tooth and nail to protect scarce capacity carveouts (from the state RPSs) so as to bolster their chosen business models as the expense of all others. The same goes for the utility-scale folks. The in-fighting, due in part to the small de facto caps of the RPSs, have significantly slowed the deployment of renewables in the U.S.
    (4) Most importantly is how we connect distributed renewable energies to the grid in the U.S., the most salient difference between the American net-metering program and the German feed-in tariff is that net-metering is *retail* energy whereas the FIT is *wholesale* energy. Thus, net-metering does little more than offset onsite loads and in the process it shifts the rate burdens of lost customers onto other ratepayers. Those rate burdens also include all of the utility’s overhead as well since compensation is at the retail rate. A FIT, on the other hand, as wholesale energy feeds the energy directly into the electric grid, and because it is must take wholesale energy it must be used first, and in many cases it will off set more expensive energies found on the grid, such as peaker plant power,spinning reserves and so forth saving rate payers money.” Bob Tregilus.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Got some posts on some of these matters coming up on cleantechnica.com in the coming days. Keep an eye on the content over there.

  • http://MrEnergyCzar.com/ MrEnergyCzar

    Leasing really is a no brainer. Barely any money upfront, you freeze most of your electric bill and you have the option to buy the system after 15 years… plus they maintain everything, no liability for you..

    MrEnergyczar

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      With Admirals Bank now offering a $0 down solar loan nationwide, i think that is the best way to go for most people who don’t have cash available to purchase outright. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/10/25/solar-loan-admirals-bank-vs-solar-lease/

      I haven’t heard of many solar leasing companies offering to sell the systems after the leasing period is up. Where have you seen that?

    • ronwint

      Yes, leasing truly is a no brainer as in as in, you would have to have no brains to choose an expensive solar lease over an outright purchase or a purchase with a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest.

      1. Add up your lease payments and when compared to an outright purchase you’ll find that you’re easily paying up to 3 times more on a $0 down solar lease versus a purchase.

      2. You’ll pay so much more for a lease than a purchase that’s it’s actually you who will be over-paying for your own maintenance, monitoring and insurance not the leasing company.

      3. You’ll have trouble selling your home because what home buyer in his right mind will want to assume your lease payments on a used, outdated system when they can buy a brand new system with the latest technology and keep the 30% federal tax credit for thousands less.

      4. After making 20 years worth of leasing payments, you won’t even own the system. It will still belong to the leasing company.

      5. Check that quote from the solar leasing company and you’ll find that most of the time they won’t even tell you what brand of equipment they’re installing on your home. I wonder why?

      6. Most if not all $0 down solar leases include an annual payment escalator that will increase your monthly payment by up to 2.9% per year for 20 years.

      7. You’ll be stuck with the same aging solar system without the ability to upgrade for the full 20 year term of the contract. If you bought your system instead, you can sell it at any time and take the proceeds from the sale and upgrade to the latest and greatest equipment. You can’t do that with a lease because it’s not your system to sell.

      8. You’ll have to forfeit the 30% federal tax credit and any applicable cash rebate to the leasing company and you won’t get tax deductible interest on your lease payments. Only a $0 down solar loan or $0 down PACE financing will give you tax deductible interest and let you keep all of your incentives for a much better return on your investment.

      9. Shall I go on ?

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        Buying with cash is certainly a better deal (not taking into consideration opportunity cost), but I’ve actually found from limited research that solar leasing turns out better than getting a loan ~50% of the time: http://solarlove.org/solar-leasing-worst-option-going-solar/

        • ronwint

          Hi Zachary, Thanks for the link. I took a look at the comparisons and a couple of thing that I questioned was the fact that the comparisons do not consider the tax deductible interest that offered by Admirals Bank’s FHA $0 Down Title 1 solar loan (leases and PPAs do not offer tax deductible payments) nor does the site consider the sub $3.00 a watt installed, before incentive pricing that is readily available.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Thanks. I’m curious now. However, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that EnergySage isn’t including these things. They are including a large number of variables behind the simple output screen, and aren’t tied to solar leasing companies. But you’d have to check with EnergySage to be sure.

  • http://MrEnergyCzar.com/ MrEnergyCzar

    Leasing really is a no brainer. Barely any money upfront, you freeze most of your electric bill and you have the option to buy the system after 15 years… plus they maintain everything, no liability for you..

    MrEnergyczar

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      With Admirals Bank now offering a $0 down solar loan nationwide, i think that is the best way to go for most people who don’t have cash available to purchase outright. http://cleantechnica.com/2013/10/25/solar-loan-admirals-bank-vs-solar-lease/

      I haven’t heard of many solar leasing companies offering to sell the systems after the leasing period is up. Where have you seen that?

    • ronwint

      Yes, leasing truly is a no brainer as in as in, you would have to have no brains to choose an expensive solar lease over an outright purchace or a purchase with a $0 down solar loan with tax deductible interest.

      1. Add up your lease payments and when compared to an outright purchase you’ll find that you’re easily paying up to 3 times more on a $0 down solar lease versus a purchase.

      2. You’ll pay so much more for a lease than a purchase that’s it’s actually you who will be over-paying for your own maintenance, monitoring and insurance not the leasing company.

      3. You’ll have trouble selling your home because what home buyer in his right mind will want to assume your lease payments on a used, outdated system when they can buy a brand new system with the latest technology and keep the 30% federal tax credit for thousands less.

      4. After making 20 years worth of leasing payments, you won’t even own the system. It will still belong to the leasing company.

      5. Check that quote from the solar leasing company and you’ll find that most of the time they won’t even tell you what brand of equipment they’re installing on your home. I wonder why?

      6. Most if not all $0 down solar leases include an annual payment escalator that will increase your monthly payment by up to 2.9% per year for 20 years.

      7. You’ll be stuck with the same aging solar system without the ability to upgrade for the full 20 year term of the contract. If you bought your system instead, you can sell it at any time and take the proceeds from the sale and upgrade to the latest and greatest equipment. You can’t do that with a lease because it’s not your system to sell.

      8. You’ll have to forfeit the 30% federal tax credit and any applicable cash rebate to the leasing company and you won’t get tax deductible interest on your lease payments. Only a $0 down solar loan or $0 down PACE financing will give you tax deductible interest and let you keep all of your incentives for a much better return on your investment.

      9. Shall I go on ?

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        Buying with cash is certainly a better deal (not taking into consideration opportunity cost), but I’ve actually found from limited research that solar leasing turns out better than getting a loan ~50% of the time: http://solarlove.org/solar-leasing-worst-option-going-solar/

        • ronwint

          Hi Zachary, Thanks for the link. I took a look at the comparisons and a couple of thing that I questioned was the fact that the comparisons do not consider the tax deductible interest that offered by Admirals Bank’s FHA $0 Down Title 1 solar loan (leases and PPAs do not offer tax deductible payments) nor does the site consider the sub $3.00 a watt installed, before incentive pricing that is readily available.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Thanks. I’m curious now. However, I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that EnergySage isn’t including these things. They are including a large number of variables behind the simple output screen, and aren’t tied to solar leasing companies. But you’d have to check with EnergySage to be sure.

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  • Tom Fiorillo

    We installed a 7.3 KW solar array six years ago: ground mount, true south, 35 degree tilt. We average just under 10,000 kwh a year. The installation cost $46k; rebates and credits paid for $38k, and we have received $3k in energy buy back so far. I tell global warming skeptics that it’s not about global warming, it’s about economics. I think it’s was one of the best investments we ever made.

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  • http://www.house.gov/writerep max lewandowski

    How about you notify Mayor Ballard of solar power for moped espically on I.U.P.U.I. campus from me Max Lewandowski! Your more apt. to find correct e-mail address;www.house.gov/write rep attention congressman Dan Coats I have idea for city of Indianapoli,Indiana.Wish that you will contact Mayor Ballard to assist in any way S.B.L. through PACE finacing perhaps. Not to good on computer or typing so I hope this message arrive to your office from max_lewandowski@yahoo.com a U.S. Veteran!

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/zshahan/ Zachary Shahan

      Thanks, Max. PACE financing certainly needs to come back!

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  • http://www.mychoicegreen.com Mike Mufdi

    Going solar is a good idea if it works fine for you, Generally it takes 1-3 years of operating at peak exposure (which does not happen every day-everywhere) .
    You can check my blog about this http://www.mychoicegreen.com/solar-panels-disadvantages/

    • http://www.zacharyshahan.com Zachary Shahan

      Thanks, Mike. That’s a good piece on it

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