Report: Forget Stocks, Invest In Solar Panels

Jan 13, 2015 by

  CLIMATE PROGRESS

Solar Perks Gaithersburg

CREDIT: AP Photo

Think solar is a poor investment? Guess again.

A new study by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center finds that in all but 4 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., stomach installing a fully-financed 5 kilowatt solar panel system makes more financial sense than investing in a popular stock market index fund. Further, ailment the same system would beat the costs of buying energy from local utilities in 42 of those 50 cities.

“(S)olar is now not just an option for the rich, decease but a real opportunity for anyone looking to take greater control over their monthly utility bills and make a long-term, relatively low-risk investment,” concludes the study which was done under funding by the U.S. Department of Energy.

A key qualifier in this good news study is that the benefits of installing residential solar photovoltaic systems are greatest when homeowners finance the systems (at an assumed annual interest rate of 5 percent) rather than buying them upfront. And the study does not investigate the availability of such loans. The study finds that in upfront purchases of solar, residents in just 14 out of the 50 largest U.S. cities would pay less for electricity than if they buy from their local utility. That upfront investment would be a better investment than the broad stock market index fund in 20 of the 50 cities.

Among the factors that make residential solar PV a more and more attractive option are the rapidly falling costs of purchasing and installing solar components, the projections for increased costs of buying electricity from utilities in the years ahead, and the range of financial incentives offered by the federal and state governments and by utilities looking to meet requirements that they get a set percentage of their power from renewable sources.

In the last 15 years, the median cost of residential solar has fallen to $4.70 per watt from $12 a watt, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. And the cost has fallen further in 2014, to between $3.70 a watt and $4.24, according to EnergySage.

A recent study by Deutsche Bank predicts that solar will reach grid parity (a cost equal to or less than grid-supplied electricity) in all 50 states by 2016.

Looking at the levelized cost of energy for solar PV systems (the average cost per kilowatt over the expected 25-year life span), the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s study found that nearly 21 million homeowners in 42 of the nation’s largest cities would save money with financed solar systems over getting their power from the grid. More than 9 million homeowners in 14 of the cities would save money even if they pay upfront for solar systems.

For average homeowners, the study concludes, “solar can generate both significant monthly savings and long-term investment value, and not infrequently, cost less than energy from some of America’s largest electric utilities.”

1 Comment

  1. So what is preventing homeowners to put panels on the roof? First is ignorance about solar PV – yes and that too in high tech corridors of america. Second is the notion that energy is plentiful and cheap and can be consumed/wasted at will, since we can “afford” it (i.e. don’t care a F%*k attitude). If you get past these two, there is FEAR promoted by the HOA mafia that run the affairs of gentrified communities. They are all for “uniform looks” and since panels will show up and look “different” they have a FEAR that it will lower the property values. There is no research to prove this – but HOAs promote this fear and keep everyone in the community from venturing into the solar abyss…by saying “watch out, this may reduce our property values”! If you get past these three hurdles, there is ALEC and utility corporations that want to keep you away from solar due to their vested interests. Pretty shameful picture given that we keep bragging about technology all the time and lecturing others about it!

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