Thursday, May 25, 2006

Becoming an energy CEO: going solar at home

June 2 update: All done. Makin' juice on the roof.

TUCSON -- Work starts soon on our home solar system. We're becoming an energy producer.

It's a good deal right now, especially if you're a TEP customer.

Solar power is clean money.


Geo said...

Hey Daniel,

I've been seriously interested in doing something similar...even if it's not whole hog, but just a few panels.

I have two chief concerns though, that maybe you could help me consider.

The first is that I've heard (and seen some studies) that suggest that the energy and resources input and pollution resulting from the fabrication of solar panels is as bad or worse than that saved on the back end. So it might be clean energy once I got the panels, but prior to getting to me, there's been a lot of industry going on to make the things, so that, on balance, it's not a clean source of energy.

Do you have figures or thoughts about that?

The other issue I'm concerned with is that most of the panels I've seen have a life-span of maybe 10 years. After which time they lose their effectiveness (oxidative degradation, etc.) and have to be replaced. So that when I run my calculations, it seems to be about break-even for the cost.

As I say, I've been seriously considering doing something like this, even on a smaller scale (a few hundred watts augmentation, perhaps) but have been reluctant because of these two concerns.

Could you address these things and give me your perspective? I'd really love to make it work.

Thanks very much for your advice, Daniel.


shrimplate said...

Damn, I am green with envy. I so want to do this, even if at this time it turns out to be a wash.

I'm thinking of borrowing against my life insurance policies to make this happen on out roof.

I'll be back to check for comments.

DRP said...

To geo: not sure. It does take some energy to make panels, but seems like they energy they produce would way off-set it.

I think my new panels are 'lifetime', not just 10 years. Solar tech. has advanced a lot in the last several years.

If you are a TEP customer, the best option is #2, with a 1KW system (about $6500 cost up-front) -- check out the 'TEP' link on my post. With $2000 fed. and $1000 state tax credits, plus TEP subsidy on hardware, my entire investment and system will pay for itself in 5-8 years (est.), and after that it is all bonus.

If AZ Corp. Comm. increases rates utilities have to pay home solar producers, as expected, it'll all get better.

Not sure what program, if any, APS may have, but worth checking.

Geo said...

Thanks, Daniel!

I'm looking into it for my home here in Chandler.

Geo said...

Hi Daniel,

Looking at SRP, which is my utility provider, it's pretty attractive!

It looks like you get a $2000 fed. and $1000 state tax credits as you mentioned, and then SRP will give you a subsidy of $3 per watt of capacity installed. So, for the 1kW system you were talking about, that's $6k in credits and subsidies!??

If the 1 kW system you are installing costs about $6500, then it means the net cost would be only $500! And a 2kW system would only cost $4k!?

That seems incredible. I must be mis-understanding something somewhere. But heck, if I can install a 1kW system for 500 bucks, or a 2kW system for $4k, based on these figures, then good grief - I'm all over that!

Oh, what business are you using to install that system? And has it been installed yet? I'm curious to know how it went for you and the total cost.