Turn a Profit by Investing in Solar Panels

solar panelsAdvancements in photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, have greatly decreased the once prohibitive cost of solar panels. Additionally, historic highs for the costs of energy that are likely to continue to ascend suggest that an investment in solar panels for your home may provide you with healthy returns.

One company that is lowering the barrier of entry into owning solar panels is SolarCity Inc. in California. They offer a 15-year lease for solar panels that includes installation, free repairs and free removal at the end of the lease. They also guarantee that you receive the power production promised, which they can monitor remotely, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company has plans to expand to Oregon and eventually the East coast.

Even in cloudy regions like Seattle or New York, there is still a good opportunity in solar power. Solar panels work surprisingly well in less than sunny conditions. Findsolar.com gives Seattle and New York a good rating for sun power availability. Germany produced over half the world’s solar energy in 2006 despite having half as many sunny days as Portugal, according to the Washington Post.

Leasing a 16-panel system for $85 per month would generate 3.2 kilowatts of electricity and reduce a $200 electric bill to an estimated $75, according to SolarCity’s site. Therefore, solar panel lessees would save an estimated $40 per month in the first month. However, payments increase 3.5% each year, so the electric rates would have to increase at this rate or higher to maintain this savings. Another disadvantage is that at the end of the lease you do not own the system and would either have to buy it, upgrade or have it removed. A more sensible option may be to secure financing a system with a solar panel retailer.

If energy prices continue to rise, you can turn a good profit by producing your own electricity and even possibly selling it back to the energy company. Some states, such as California, offer tax incentives to offset some of the initial cost for the system. Washington state will buy solar generation at 15 cents per kWh until 2014. The flip side is that technology will likely advance considerably over the next decade and you may be stuck with an obsolete model that is much less efficient than future models. The current solar technology only captures a small portion of the sun’s energy and billions of dollars are being invested into research and development to produce more efficient solar cells. The improvement in this technology could follow a similar path as computers, in which efficiency could double every two years and result in your system being as worthless in 15 years as a 1993 computer is today.

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July 24, 2008 at 12:23 AM Alex said...

Turn a profit by investing in Green energy sounds a simple task.
We are making natural looking trees that are fitted with leaves made from a combination of nano materials. These leaves convert solar radiation (light & heat) and wind energy into electricity. All this in one system, in one beautiful tree or plant. This idea generates more energy than conventional solar panels and is competitive with wind turbines, our trees and plants are in tune with nature, can be placed anywhere with virtually no obstructions, provides shade, cooling the air, protecting young crops from wind damage, provides wind break, can be placed in cities and help to prevent heat islands. All this with trees and plants and much more. It is a responsible use of land and our eco systems.
But investors for this project are hard to find.
Although the business as a huge market, and is very profitable, we are unable to get big investments. The small investor yes, no problem, but it does not get our product quickly to the market.
any suggestions?
Natural looking trees and plants, giving you and me all the energy we need in a responsible and real green way.Electricity at 0,3/0,2 per Kwh
more info at: solarbotanic@apollo.lv
Alex van der Beek

July 24, 2008 at 8:31 AM Charles Sipe said...

That sounds like a great idea. I think it would take government to take a leadership role in large scale conversion to renewable energy. My feeling is that they will provide better incentives for companies to use solar energy in the future. Both Obama and McCain seem pretty good about the environment. And Al Gore just called for our country to convert 100% of electricity usage to renewable energy in ten years. So don't give up! "It is always darkest before the dawn".

July 24, 2008 8:29 AM

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