$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Oregon related tax credit info, here

"By the year 2020 power from solar cells will be cheaper in than power from coal or oil fired power plants in the United States.     If all peripheral costs are included - such waste recycling/end storage etc. - then Nuclear Power should be more expensive than PV power as well "

Martin, May 2006

System Costs and tax credits:

If you're installing a PV system on your business property - such as a farm - your expenses could look similar to this:


Disclaimer: This is an estimate only and shall not be used as reference for negotiations, basis for quotes, etc. Costs may vary depending on location, time and size of system.

Do your own research and comparisons.


(more on the various tax credits,  soon.)

please note that the total cost of the system includes the time value of money. This means that you will have to calculate the interest on the money you have to borrow in order to pay for the system, whether the borrowed money is part of a tax-deductible loan, such as a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or home loan.

Loans obtained through the Department of Energy are tax deductible, from what I understand.

Currently (April '06) you should not be surprised to be quoted more than $9.-/Watt installed. Prices are rising sharply, due to the Si shortage. Check out www.solarbuzz.com for current pricing.

For what it's, Europeans usually pay more - approx. US$10.50 per Watt installed. See  www.greenenergy.org.uk for details. However  - at least in Germany they have an excellent feed-in tarriff, making the modules an investment for the users.

Criticism and Recommendations:

a) Background

There are quite a few players involved in - finally - making the solar boom we now have possible:

... and , indirectly:

First, let's commend where commendation is due:

The state governments carried the lion share. States like New Jersey and Oregon were leaders in providing the right incentives. [However states like Jeb Bush's Florida are laggards with less than a pittance in subsidies (Pity, how some of the best weather is wasted on states whose politicians refuse to take advantage of it).]
The states had to do this, because the US had fallen behind Germany and Japan in R&D (research and Development) of alternative energy technology, and the federal government was too focused on oil.

Federal Government:
It took the bi-partisan effort of two senators from New Mexico:
    Jeff Bingaman (D), ranking member of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee and leading proponent of alternative energy and
    Pete Domenici (R), chairman of the Senate's Energy Committee
to propose an energy bill (Energy Policy Act of 2005 [1.9MB]) that actually included photovoltaics. While the bill was influenced by oil companies, but I found no evidence of any solar cell-, wind- , or solar thermal companies having been asked to give their opinion.
So I guess special thanks goes to Jeff Bingaman for persisting and Pete Domenici for cooperating. (Sorry if I interpreted the actions of the respective honorable senators incorrectly). 


State Policy Shortcomings: Here's an excerpt of Florida's State Department of Energy "Energy Plan"
Sales tax is 7%. OK. Pretty sad compared to Oregon's 35% (maybe soon to be 50% state tax credit!).  At least the DoE tried to improve things: Recommendation #13 on page 47 is better:

So that was the recommendation. Here is one of the very few solar initiatives that can be traced back to the State Government of the Sunshine State. It seems Jeb chose to completely ignore recommendation #13 of the DoE.

 By the way,  Florida has

a) the 3rd largest energy consumption of the US,
b) the best weather conditions for solar power harvesting, (shortest ROI potential for solar thermal water heaters)
c) the largest percentage of senior citizens (I think) in the US - people who are not willing or able to make 30 year commitments to an installation (i.e.: they need a lower initial cost per Watt_p),
d) the highest electric power need during the hottest time of the day.

The other Bush State, Texas, has just as sad a package:
"The Texas property tax code allows an exemption of the amount of the appraised property value that arises from the installation or construction of a solar or wind-powered energy device that is primarily for the production and distribution of energy for on-site use. "

OK, so if I understand this correctly, you can deduct the cost of the solar system from the value of the house when getting appraised for property tax. Hmmm. If I have a $250k house and I install a $30k system on the roof top, my property tax won't go up, because my house hasn't increased in value for tax purposes. Texas property taxes are enormous -something like 3% or 5%. So the money I just "saved" is max. $30k x 5% =  $1500.-. NOT enough to make a difference! (Thank goodness at least some of the utilities pushed the issue, at least in Austin - again, more detail, later).

Federal policy shortcomings:

The current energy bill 'sunsets' on Dec31, 2007. No Company can make investments based on 2 year plans. (You can help overcome the sunset clause!)  Germany's policy makers had a much longer horizon - and better foresight than our congress. Contracts for their (very generous) feed-in tariffs are fixed for a 20 year period. As a result the German industry invested *heavily* in photovoltaics. See Solarworld as an example. They are the new 800-pound Gorilla in this market. Look at their stock:

Japan is the other country with better, long term policy. It shows:

In 2005 the share of the US shrunk. By far the biggest manufacturer of Solar cell modules is Sharp (JP).

In consumption, the US will catch up in 2006 and 2007, but in production it probably won't.


Room for improvement - our energy mix (electricity).

Hooked on oil - and traffic is the main culprit.

(The Japanese Gov't seems to be seriously working on this already. Hydrogen infrastructure for transportation is a good idea, if the electricity used to make the hydrogen comes from clean sources; electric cars would reduce the loss of energy conversion - by the way  Toyota made an electric Rav4 with a 150 mile radius. Too bad they only made a few thousand. I test drove one, in June 2006 - drives just like a regular gasoline car, only more quiet and cleaner :)   )


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