The Perfect Time for Solar PVJanuary 7, 2009
THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOLAR?
What would be the perfect time for solar?
– A breakthrough for making solar cells directly from sand for mere pennies?
– A giant mirror placed on the moon focusing sunlight onto your house”s roof through the night?
– Or a combination of less exotic factors resulting in the best time to invest for many years to come?
The world has seen an unprecedented explosion in growth slow to a crawl, with the majority of the developed world now officially in recession. The spiralling costs of crude oil and natural gas have come to an end – oil has been back below $40 a barrel, but the utility companies so quick to point out the direct cause and effect a year ago are now back pedalling. We are now told that risk is the decisive factor in pricing and that companies don”t want to be seen to decrease the price and then increase it soon afterwards, even if that would have saved consumers money.
Overall, it looks as though domestic energy prices will remain higher than previously thought. This is particularly ominous when wholesale gas and oil prices slowly start their rise again when the recession lifts. There is an air of inevitability in the increase of the price of oil and gas, as the finite resource becomes ever rarer and more expensive to extract.
Solar photovoltaic cells are the perfect way to establish independence from increasing electricity prices. The only other remotely viable electricity generation would be a miniature wind turbine. These also provide protection from electricity price increases and although they only function on windy days, this is comparable with only working in daylight hours. The major disadvantages with microgeneration of electricity using wind turbines are swirling wind direction in urban areas, particularly if not mounted on the tallest building in the vicinity, and the obstructive planning laws in this country. Hopefully planning permission will become much easier and 2010 might yet be the year of the micro wind turbine.
Renewable technology cannot compete on the free market with fossil fuels unless carbon trading schemes are brought in to represent the global damage being caused by climate change. The UK has introduced Renewable Obligation Credits (ROC”s) and one off grants towards the initial capital outlay of microgeneration. For solar photovoltaics this grant currently stands at Â£2,500 per household and ROC”s provide about 5p/kWh of energy produced.
Since the climate change bill was passed into law in late 2008 there has been renewed talk of what form a feed-in tariff will take. If the bill follows the path blazed by Germany, France and Spain it will create a massive boom in the market. This will not only begin to strain demand, leading to an increase in solar panel costs, but more importantly it will replace the upfront capital grant.
The resultant conclusion: If you believe the feed-in tariff is likely to come into law, now is the ideal time to be purchasing solar photovoltaic systems. You receive the capital grant and the production grants making solar photovoltaics a sound financial investment.
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