Category: Solar Value

3 Reasons Why Solar Has Gotten So Cheap

The solar industry has changed dramatically in the past five years, some would even say that it’s in a “boom”.

Since 2010, the amount of solar installations has grown exponentially, with the amount of the amount of installed solar capacity topping 6,000 Megawatts in 2014; nearly six times that of the amount installed in 2010.  What can explain this huge uptick in solar sales?

The price.

Graph via SEIA.org

Graph via SEIA.org

While we would like to believe that US citizens have all suddenly woken up to the environmental benefits of going solar, we are more inclined to believe that the falling price, and the savings that are yielded, are the real motivation behind the sudden switch.  In years past solar wasn’t quite worth it, but now homeowners cannot turn their heads away from the numbers.  Solar is now too good of a deal to deny, mostly due to three factors:

1. Cheaper Panels

Probably the biggest contributing factor to the price of solar installations dropping is the fact that solar panels are much cheaper than they used to be.  A recent report by the SEIA found that the price of photovoltaic solar panels has dropped 63% since 2010.  The reason for this can be partly attributed to China, when a few years ago they decided to enter the solar market.  The Chinese opened up a ton of panel factories, so many in fact that there was a surplus of panels once these manufacturers hit the market.  This surplus caused the price of panels to plummet, and they’ve stayed low since.

 

2. Easier Installationssolar

As with any business, the biggest cost for solar companies is labor – paying the guys who install the solar system.  While solar installers aren’t being paid any less than they used to, they are working faster and more efficiently.  New technologies that allow panels to be simply snapped in place have allowed for installations to take a quarter of the time they used to, which saves the solar companies money, in turn saving the solar consumer money.

3. Financing Options

New financing options have allowed for a new economic class to access solar.  While a new solar system may cost $25,000, solar companies like us at Stellar offer financing options to fit a wide variety of budgets.  Most companies offer a lease or loan option, with lease agreements typically lasting 20 years.  Stellar Solar offers a zero money down, 1.89% solar loan along with a solar lease that is backed by industry leader Sunpower.

So it’s clear why solar panel installation has gotten so cheap, and thusly, so popular.  With a plummet in panel prices, cheaper and more efficient labor, and affordable financing, solar has never been cheaper or more accessible.  Projections show that these prices should remain stable or drop even more over the next few years; a good indication that solar will continue to boom.

Solar Cars: How You Can Save Thousands on Gas by Going Solar

Filling up your gas tank can be one of the most painful parts of the day.

You work hard for your money, and watching how much of that hard work gets wasted at the pump can be a bit discouraging.  For many of us, gas is a huge expense that can eat up a lot of our money.  If only we could break our addiction to that liquid gold that is gasoline, we could save money we never knew we had.

The good news is, you can break the gasoline addiction.  No, you don’t have to ride a bike, but nowadays, the payoff of owning an electric car is hard to ignore.  The hybrids and full electric cars out there today are becoming more mainstream, and more and more people are waking up to the savings that an electric car can bring.

solar cars

Let’s break down the savings.

A standard gasoline car gets about 20 miles to the gallon.  Gas, although it does fluctuate a lot, is generally around $4.00 a gallon.  So the cost per mile of driving a standard gasoline car is about 20 cents a mile.

The standard electric car these days gets about 3.5 miles for every kilowatt-hour.  The average kilowatt-hour costs a homeowner about 20 cents per kWh.  So the cost per mile of driving an electric car that your charge at home is about 5.7 cents a mile.

So the saving are obvious there.  By switching to electric, the cost to drive your car literally is cut by almost 75%.  Pretty incredible right?  But think about this:  what if your electricity was costing you less?

By switching to solar energy to power your home, you can cut your power bills by more than half. The average solar installation makes the cost of a kilowatt-hour drop from 20 cents a kWh to 7 cents a kWh.

So how does this translate to savings when it comes to driving?

Solar cars, when powered by a solar powered home, will cost only 2 cents per mile to drive.  With electric cars getting 3.5 miles per kWh, at 7 cents a kWh, solar powered cars save you 90% per mile.

So it’s obvious that solar cars are the cheapest way to get around.  The question remains though as to how expensive these electric cars are compared to their counterparts, and how easy they are to attain.

The new hybrid 2015 Nissan Leaf starts at $29,000.  They are now easily available at any Nissan dealership.  A comparable non-electric car of similar size from Nissan, the 2015 Nissan Sentra, a similar sized hatchback, starts at around $16,500.

So let’s look at how the gas savings compare.  Let’s say you commute 30 miles a day, five days a week.  So you drive 150 miles a week, 600 miles a month, and 7,200 miles a year.

Nissan Sentra: 7,200 Miles X 20 cents a mile = 144,000 cents, or $1,440 for a years’ worth of driving.

Nissan Leaf (without solar powered home): 7,200 Miles X 5.7 cents a mile = 41,040 cents or $410.40 for a year’s worth of driving.

Nissan Leaf (with solar powered home): 7,200 Miles X 2 cents a Mile = 14,400 cents, or $144 for a years’ worth of driving.

So if you’re driving a solar powered car, you could be saving around $1,300 a year on gas.  The savings on gas will make up for the price difference between the Leaf and the Sentra in around 9 years, and after that it’s purely savings.

Setting an example for anyone considering solar powered cars is Stellar Solar’s own VP of Sales and Marketing Michael Powers.  Powers drives his Nissan Leaf to and from work every day, and plugs it in to his solar powered home at night. In a recent interview with the Union Tribune, Michael had this to say about his solar car:  “I drive an electric car that I plug into a solar-powered house so that car runs on sunshine, and to me that’s a great idea.”

solar powered cars

Michael Powers mows his lawn next to his solar powered car.

 

2014 Solar Industry Report

In 2014 the solar industry continued to see the exponential growth that is has been experiencing the last few years.  We put together this infographic to illustrate just how much the solar industry has grown.

2014 solar industry report

How Valuable is a PV Solar System?

We’ve all heard it before.

The benefits of adding a photovoltaic solar system to your home are innumerable, but one that you always hear is that it adds value to your home.

photovoltaic solar system

That should be obvious, as the systems are expensive and save tons of money, but the question of just how much value they add to your home has mostly remained unanswered, up until recently.

 In conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory have recently completed the largest study on the effect of solar photovoltaic systems on home values in history.  Researchers more than doubled the amount of solar homes evaluated from previous studies, looking at around 22,000 home sales, 4,000 of which had PV systems.  In order to open up the scope of the research, researchers also looked at eight states outside of California where solar is not as prevalent.  Considering all these factors, the study is the most extensive of its kind.

The research determined that home buyers will pay about $4 per watt of installed PV, which averages out to about a $15,000 premium per home.  This value is averaged based on information gathered from housing busts, booms, and recoveries, so if projections are accurate, it should remain consistent.

The next step towards achieving this standard of value for PV systems is for realtors to be able to more accurately appraise homes with systems installed.  Hopefully, researchers will continue to improve valuing methods that realtors will adopt, and the value of PV systems will remain consistent and measurable.

 

Source: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/study-rooftop-solar-adds-15000-premium-to-home-values/352862/

How Solar Power Works: An Infographic

Have you ever wondered how solar power works?

How those weird looking solar panels convert sunlight into power for your home? We at Stellar have found that many people are in the dark about how the process of using solar power for your home works, so we put together this simplified info graphic to help you understand:

 

how solar power works

 

2013 and Beyond: Future of Renewable Energy

We’re all watching as San Diego’s local government, San Diego businesses, investors and home owners are making a financial choice to go solar in San Diego. Every indication is that they will continue to do so well into the future. With evidence showing that renewables such photovoltaic solar being the way forward, we look forward to meeting these challenges in the future with our San Diego solar alliance.

But where is the San Diego solar power industry headed, or on a larger scale, where is the renewable energy industry going? According to the new Renewables Global Futures Report 2013 by the global renewable energy policy network REN-21; the future of the renewable energy industry is dependent on ‘finance, risk-return profiles, business models, investment lifetimes and a host of other economic, policy and social factors.’

Okay, this is perhaps a standard bit of insight that is largely applicable to any other industry. Still, it’s worth examining this and other reports to understand what is in store for renewables in 2013 and beyond. Examining the final quarter of 2012, the latest Energy Industries Council Monitor report found that the renewable energy sector grew by 9%. Additionally, there were 295 new projects in the renewable sector worth around $165.3 billion in the latter half of 2012.

Contrasted with the power sector which saw new projects drop by 14%; an even stronger renewable sector picture is painted. Further, investors more than doubled their renewable energy sector investment in 2012, accounting for a third of renewable value last year generated by ever diverse groups of buyers. PwC global power and utilities leader Norbert Schwieters stated that outside investors now account for ‘37% of industry buyer share, attracted by long-term growth and steady-return potential.’

REN-21’s report further found that ‘finance challenge’ is the primary challenge. This can be met with greater external investment and investment models created by local government, services, and utilities. REN-21 also made projections of a massive $500 billion renewable energy investment by 2020. This is all highly encouraging to both the San Diego solar energy scene and the renewable energy industry in general. We’re excited to be a part of it.

Electric Vehicles: The USA’s New Normal

minipanelsThe Stellar Solar Nissan Leaf parked under the SDG&E Innovation Center Solar Trees

Here at Stellar we’ve always been big proponents of electric and hybrid vehicles; with many of our employees and customers driving and thriving on electric vehicles powered by the sun.

Vice President of Sales & Marketing Michael Powers drives the Nissan Leaf, the world’s strongest selling electric car. Take a look at Peder Norby; San Diego Planning Commisioner and a Stellar Solar customer. The Norby’s power their BMW Mini-E, ActiveE as well as his home with his 7.5kW solar system we installed. They save $4000 a year in home electricity cost as well as over $3000 in gasoline costs.

When you look at the economics, it’s no doubt that electric car sales have tripled in size from 2012 from 2011. According to Pike Research, the USA will have the biggest electric vehicle market by 2020; with 1.8 million electric cars on the road. Charging networks are increasing in top metropolitan areas in the United States, even including places like Texas; the 4th most popular place for favorable EV opinion. With attitudes, education and infrastructure on electric vehicles changing, we look forward to participating in the evolution towards environmentally friendly vehicles.

World’s Biggest Solar Project: Coming Soon to Southern California

buffetcommercial pinterestSouthern California’s Kern and Los Angeles counties are set to have the largest solar project in the world. At 579-megawatts, the development will be serving almost 1 million residents. It’s been reported that MidAmerican Energy Holdings, an electric utility owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s group, for around $2 to $2.5 billion.

Construction finishes in 2015, employing about 650 workers and selling electricity to Southern California Edison. The project is a step in the right direction for California’s goal of 33% of electricity being renewable based by 2020.

California businesses and residents can easily be a part of the renewable shift. Our clients such as the Salk Institute have gone solar and are reaping the economic rewards whilst providing their facilities with clean, green energy. Home owners in California now have access to no-money down solar leasing that immediately saves you money as well as providing added-value to your home.

 

A Stellar Holiday Gift List

If you’re a fan of this blog, chances are that you and many of your friends are fans of solar & green energy. If you’re looking for some holiday reading or are looking for a gift for your friends in the industry, be sure to check out some of the new solar books being talked about this season.

In “Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy — and Our Planet — from Dirty Energy” by Danny Kennedy you can find a new take on the case for going solar as well as a list of action plans and activities at the end of each chapter.

The 2nd book is “Clean Break: The Story of Germany’s Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn from It” by Osha Gray Davidson. The book is the story of how Germany embraced clean energy and the informative low-down on their hugely successful feed-in-tariff. It’s available on kindle for .99¢, quite the festive bargain.

Solar Gatherings Gaining Popularity Across Country

Solar companies these days are taking one out of the Tupperware playbook. Often times, the best sales people are the often eager customers who are willing to share their positive experiences with friends and neighbors. Solar gatherings allow home owners to show off their new solar systems while installers have an opportunity to spread the word on the economic benefits of going green.

People are often excited to share how they managed to cut their electricity bills with green energy and will be keen to collect any referral fees offered by the companies. These Solar installers are also excited to share how going solar doesn’t necessarily have to limited to those with a large amount of discretionary capital. New programs such as solar leasing, which allows home owners to install a system on their home for no money down and a monthly lease payment typically around half their current electricity bill.

BBB Online Reliability Program California Solar Energy Industries Association Solar Energy Industries Association Member Mitsubishi ElectricSunEdison Solar SunPower Premier Dealer LG Solar