Sunday, June 6, 2010

Which Renewable to Power Your House?

Prices have decreased by about a third over the last year because there are so many suppliers now. Chinese solar panel manufacturers have multiplied tenfold over the last year and many are already meeting European standards.

Two years ago, potential buyers would have to ask suppliers if and how many solar panels they might be able to buy. The manufacturers could pretty much set the prices. Now we have a surplus of solar panels.

t’s a good investment for pretty much everyone in Germany--apart from people living in the northwest--because people here produce electricity not for their own consumption needs but for the grid.

The government guarantees a fixed price for solar power that is much higher than what you pay for electricity from non-regenerative sources. Home owners in Germany aren’t interested in energy independence, but selling at a good price.

Many European countries now have similar feed-in tariffs. In southern Europe and northern Africa it also makes sense to use solar for home consumption. And the U.S. is now starting to deploy solar panels on a large scale. California is already a global leader.

We think that on a global scale grid parity could be achieved by 2015, especially in regions with high electricity prices and lots of sun. Solar power should then be able to hold its own without subsidies, even against electricity from natural gas or nuclear power.

In Germany, you should invest before the end of 2010. Electricity from solar panels built before 2011 can be sold at a guaranteed price that will remain stable for 20 years. After that, the guaranteed price will decrease every year.

But there is an interesting paradox. Solar panels are usually more expensive in countries with a lot of sun, because profits would be much higher here otherwise. Even in Germany, solar panels are more expensive in the sunnier south than in the north.

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