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Solar Power - hidden costs

By Eco Guy 2:38am 10th March 2010
Solar power is all the rage at the moment, we had a look at some quotes and found it is not as good a deal as it looks.

Solar power - the hidden costs

We were recently looking at whether we should invest in a Solar powdered electrical generation facility (otherwise called a solar panel system).

So like everybody else we got a few quotes in. The first surprise was the sheer range of the quotes for essentially the same spec output final system, so either there are some very cheap components going around or someone is making a bucket out of this..

Then we actually did a cost benefit analysis, i.e. given an investment of X in solar what do we get back and how does it compare to other options (i.e. the do nothing for now approach).

Well this got quite interesting, as out of this I developed an online tool to help work out whether it is worth it or not.

Conclusion

Well, we have decided not to invest in solar at this stage, for the following reasons:
  • If one takes into account the 'life' of each component (wiring, solar cells, inverter, etc) - the ongoing replacement costs outside of warranty wipe out any savings made.
  • The technology behind solar cells is constantly evolving, the 'best' current solar cells only manage 19% sun energy conversion at the current cost point. We reckon the solar cells either need to get about 25% more efficient, or their cost to drop 25% before we will look at it again.
  • We did not want to cash in our REC's - as the whole point of doing this is to make the environment better by withholding Carbon from the market, rather than giving polluters a mechanism to keep on polluting. We also have our own concerns over whether Co2 trading is actually going to achieve anything constructive for the environment.
What would we recommend you do?  Well, if you have no mains power available, solar is the obvious option for you. The other thing to take into account is how long the advantageous feed in tariffs will keep running, as they in effect determine the base line 'profit' from the solar system, without that unused power is just a waste.



Related Content Tags: solar power, solar energy

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Comments left

  • Tim said:

    I bought a 3.5k/w solar power system. Big $10,000 mistake! WHY? To get the 68cents/k/w refund had to install a bidirectional meter, add $250. Power Company lost my application, no 68cents/k/w refund. Power company offer 35cents/k/w, but now will have to pay 33cents/k/w, am currently paying 19.8 cents/k/w. 3.5k/w system is enough to supply me with power to run all my needs including Air Conditioners. Decided not to go with the bidirectional meter and let the meter run back during the daylight hours. This option worked very well as I produced enough power so I only paid for supply at night (fair enough). I produce enough power so that the supply charge was reduced by the credits. Now the “No choice” smart meter is being installed and the power company now will charge me 35cents/k/w and credit me 33cents/k/w. Bottom line. I now pay 2cents/k/w for the power I produce. The “smart meter” now makes the company money and I get to pay for their cash register? There is no fair go.

    ON Fri, 15 Jun 12, 11:20pm probably from Australia  Reply to this comment

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