Let’s start with some concepts, Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.
About solar technologies
There are three main ways to harness solar energy: photovoltaics, solar heating & cooling, and concentrating solar power. Photovoltaics generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process and can be used to power anything from small electronics such as calculators and road signs up to homes and large commercial businesses. Solar heating & cooling (SHC) and concentrating solar power (CSP) applications both use the heat generated by the sun to provide space or water heating in the case of SHC systems, or to run traditional electricity-generating turbines in the case of CSP power plants.
How solar is used
Solar energy is a very flexible energy technology: it can be built as distributed generation (located at or near the point of use) or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plant (similar to traditional power plants). Both of these methods can also store the energy they produce for distribution after the sun sets, using cutting edge solar + storage technologies. All of these applications depend on supportive policy frameworks at the local, state and federal level to ensure consumers and businesses have fair access to clean energy technologies like solar.
Cost of solar energy
Solar costs have declined significantly, and are at their lowest point in over 30 years. Solar is now more affordable than ever and advances in technology have improved system quality and design.
On average the total cost of solar installation can be between $15,000 to $29,000 for average sized systems sized between 4kW and 8kW.
Is Solar Energy Expensive?
There is a misconception out there that solar costs more than fossil fuels. A couple decades ago, when the only option was to pay tens of thousands of dollars for early solar technology, that was true. Today, though, your bank account is no longer a barrier to accessing solar power. Innovations in policy, design, manufacturing, transportation, and financing have made solar energy highly cost-effective, so that its only remaining competition going forward is likely to be wind power.
Community Solar Is the Cheapest Way To Go Solar
The absolute cheapest way for you to go solar is to join a community solar farm. Enrolling in community solar allows you enroll in a local solar farm and see credits on your monthly utility bill–just like you would if the panels were on your rooftop. That means you get your discount right away, and with no upfront costs or changes to your property, getting involved is simple and affordable.
With community solar, you don’t have to worry about any installation or maintenance. Since the solar developer owns the panels, they handle these responsibilities and you simply see energy savings from the solar garden’s output.
Developers are also offering more flexible contracts all the time, allowing you to come and go as you please. Additionally, if you want to modify your home, rooftop panels can add extra costs. Community solar won’t.
More information about community solar: www.solstice.us