It’s a Buyer’s Market for Solar Electricity
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The price of solar electric panels in the global marketplace is dropping, and systems that were once out of reach are now a more affordable opportunity.
For solar electricity, the most costly component of the system is the photovoltaic panels. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “panel prices have fallen about 40 percent since the middle of last year. The price drops – coupled with recently expanded federal incentives – could shrink the time it takes solar panels to pay for themselves to 16 years, from 22 years”.
The cost reduction is due to two key factors: increased production of polysilicon, the raw material that enables solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity and a panel glut due to a decrease in worldwide demand as a result of the economic downturn.
Although many manufacturers are continuing to see profit losses in 2009, according to the New York Times, some “say that cheaper panels could be a good thing in the long term, spurring enthusiasm among customers and expanding the market”.
What does this mean for people in Maine and New Hampshire who want to invest in a grid-tied photovoltaic system for their home? The timing is perfect because you have the advantage of an all-time low installed cost combined with generous state and federal financial incentives. It is important to remember that grid-tied PV is the most reliable renewable energy technology (no moving parts anywhere in the system) that comes with a 25-year warranty and expected lifespan of 40 years. This means you can lock in your own electric rate for decades and reduce your CO2 emissions.
In Maine there is a $2,000 rebate for solar electricity. In New Hampshire there is a $6,000 rebate through the NH Public Utilities Commission and a $3,500 incentive if you are a NH Electric Co-op member. The federal tax credit improved in 2009, lifting the cap for solar electric (and solar thermal) installations. The federal tax credit now totals 26% of the total system cost.