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Solar Universe Annapolis

Is Solar Energy worth a consumer's effort and resources?

You may have no doubt seen advertisements in regards to reducing your energy costs through the installation of solar (photo-voltaic) cell systems.  So...is the hype worthy of a serious look?

In short, yes.  If in fact your house (or other potential solar installation site) is suitable, the advantages of solar are indeed real... very real.  In short, the upsides are

(1) Lower cost per kwH than what you are being charged by BGE (save $$$),

(2) Advantagous state and Federal incentive programs (save additional $$$), and

(3) The potential benefits of selling what are known as SRECs (State Renewable Energy Credits) - credits the power companies are required to purchase to offset their fossil-fuel energy creation.  Short description - getting paid to produce clean energy.

Of course there are numerous factors that will effect the ultimate viability of a project, but in general  - in Maryland - given a favorable installation site you WILL save money if you are paying current residential BGE or PEPCO rates.

Now there are several ways (at least five) to finance the upfront costs, from "No-Money Down" packages to buying the system with cash.  Each alternative has its own advantages and drawbacks.  But if in the end you want to save money, you owe it to your bottom line to take a look.

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Dennis Satnick January 04, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Very interesting. How does solar actually work?
LL January 04, 2013 at 06:03 PM
The photovoltaic cells are made of a material that is light sensitive. When light hits the cells their electrons get charged and give off an electric current that is captured by the wiring of the cell and it runs through the wires just like electricity generated at a power plant. My dad was an engineer for NASA in the 60s and they used photovoltaics even then to power satellites and experiments on Skylab (the first US space station). He then went on to install water purification and pumping systems in developing nations using solar energy. Today's solar and renewable energy systems are efficient, effective, and they pay for themselves fairly quickly, especially with the incentive programs. Here's more technical info on solar photovoltaics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2002/solarcells/ And if you want to see something truly amazing, check out the Solar Decathlon, an international competition between universities to design and build completely self-sufficient renewable energy homes. The homes were displayed on the Mall in DC for the past few competitions, but I think the competition has grown in popularity and the location will now change from year to year: http://www.solardecathlon.gov/
Paul Hankins January 07, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Thanks LL. Thats a good summary. The Solar Decathalon has become hugely popular. I hadnt heard they were altering the location but you are probably right, it was growing almost too big for the mall Any one out there heard of any progress in the Maryland legislature in regards to allowing a single solar project to benefit numerous households (virtual net metering). In 2012 they approved it for municipalities, agriculture, and non-profits. It's be a great tool to allow building a large system and spread the benefits to many households.

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