Why is solar PV still so expensive?

Let’s compare the cost of a new photovoltaic (PV) system compared to another major household purchase.

Photovoltaic System Costs vs. Cost of a New Car:

A new photovoltaic (PV) system costs about the same as a nice new car, but there is a difference. Your PV system will work for you for 25 years or longer, while you are working for the car for the life of the vehicle—five to ten years. While the PV system is producing you clean energy, you are working to buy gas, oil, tires, other repair parts, labor to install them, etc.—all of which seem to get more expensive each year. Your PV system will run practically maintenance free for 25 years or longer.

In five to ten years, you’ll have to buy another car, and it will likely be more expensive than the last one. In the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) service area, most of North Alabama, you can expect to break even in less than ten years. This means 15 to 20 years of completely free electricity.

Let’s assume you want to buy a Chevy Malibu, a nice family car. Assume you will drive it 20,000 miles per year like most folks. Assume energy costs will continue to increase two percent per year as they have in the past. Also assume a three percent inflation rate. How do the costs compare?

Let’s also assume that you use about 14,200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. You will need a 10-kilowatt (kW) system. Let’s also assume you can connect to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) power grid.

Notice How Quickly a PV System Pays You Back:

By early in the seventh year, you have broken even. For the next 17 plus years, your PV system will be working for you. If you are willing to look ahead, PV is cost effective now, off-grid is cost effective in some cases, and off-grid will soon be effective everywhere.

What if the sun doesn’t shine?

In Alabama, we all know there are rainy and cloudy days, and even on clear winter days, the sunshine ius brief. What do we do if the sun doesn’t shine?

The secret is in storage, but storage is still expensive. But solar was still very expensive fifteen years ago. PV prices keep coming down and show no signs of bottoming out. Storage prices are also dropping fast, as new technologies come on line. Storage comes in instantaneous to long-term systems, tiny batteries for electronics to freight-car sized systems, and a variety of different storage media. Look for great things from Tesla and other manufacturers in the near future.

Cleaner Air, So What:

You’ll also make our air cleaner. What difference can one person or even one family make among Alabama’s vast population? See the story of “Thx Old Computxr” below.

Want to know more about how to save money on utility bills?

Wonder how I calculated these dramatic figures? Want to know what if your use is different? Call Morton at +1.256.658.5189 or e-mail: mailto:morton.archibald@GetAffordableEnergy.com.

Thank you for your interest in clean, renewable energies and making our planet a little cleaner.

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