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Solar Power Still Sucks in a Big Way

I spent $100,000 to save $20!My numerous (and very vocal fans) will remember that I already wrote a post on how much solar panels suck. But someone who “works in the industry” told me how totally wrong I was. That post was from 2008 so technology should be totally different now right? Almost everyday there’s a story about solar panels reaching new and incredible limits in efficiency.

Please Solar, PLEASE!

I want it to work so bad. I would love to get rid of my electricity bill. Understand, I have a vested interest in solar power being awesome, if it were awesome then I could just throw some panels up and free myself of the utility company. Maybe one day that will be possible, please I wish it were. Even if I could cut it in half I would be thrilled.

So, let’s figure out what that would take. Because if it’s cost efficient, I will do it right now. Luckily for me there’s an organization that has done all the work for me and created a calculator using the latest in technology and current industry costs. Great.

Right now I use an average of 37 kwh per day. That’s slightly above average in the US (don’t ask me how my 1800 sq/ft home does that). Now to get half of that, now remember I’m using this calculator, I need about a 4.1 kW array. So how much does that cost? Luckily they have a calculator for that too.

It’s Totally Cost-Effective

think about how much money they'll save on storage!

So you're an investment banker huh?


So, the grand total is $32,800 to get rid of half my electric bill. But don’t worry, there are tax breaks for this, the federal government will give me almost 10,000 dollars so it ends up being 22,960.00 (I said almost 10,000).

Great, so now if I spend $22,960 to save $35 dollars a month I will recoupe my investment in about 60 years. That doesn’t include stuff breaking, or what happens if we get less than the optimal amount of sun. In reality it’s probably twice as much.

Sorry solar, until the cost is low enough that the investment can be recouped in a year, maybe two, you’re just not worth it.

Actually, I’ll go one step further and say that the government should stop paying people to throw their money away on a technology that isn’t ready. I’m all for more efficient panels and more research but right now it’s just burning money on a technology which probably is way worse for the environment to make than just burning the coal for the electricity.

Prove me wrong and I will love you. Until then, sorry solar, you suck.

Posted Thursday, June 17, 2010
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