Solar Power Tax Credits Help Their Affordability

For many reasons, solar power is growing rapidly in many states across the United States. Among these reasons are:

Solar power produces almost no pollution

The amount of pollution produced by solar panels is significantly less than the amount of pollution produced by other power sources. For example, these days carbon dioxide is one of the most talked about atmospheric pollutants. Even though carbon dioxide is a natural part of the atmosphere, in recent years, we as humans have began to overwhelm the earth's eco system to the point where carbon dioxide has begun to reach toxic levels. We introduce carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in many ways, but one of the primary ways is via burning woods or fossil fuels for heating. Solar panels do not emit carbon dioxide and when we replace traditional energy sources such as wood or fossil fuels with solar panels, we decrease the amount of carbon dioxide that we introduce into the atmosphere.

Solar power saves you money

The upfront purchasing and installation cost for solar panels on the typical home is currently more than the cost of equivalent traditional energy appliances such as radiators, hot water heaters, and so on. Things are changing however as recent advances in solar panel technology not only make them cheaper to produce but also increase their kilowatt output efficiency. This means that even though the initial upfront investment costs may be higher for solar panels, the long term payback in energy saving will be more dramatic and occur at a quicker rate than ever before. If you want to free yourself from the spiraling costs of oil and gas, now may well be the perfect time to take a new look at the solar technologies available in your city and state.

Solar power tax credits helps to save you even more money

Few people know this but in 2005 congress passed the Energy Policy Act which gives a 30-percent tax credit to any home that purchased residential solar water heating, photovoltaic equipment, or fuel cell properties. The law has since been extended to the end of 2008 and will potentially be extended again.

In addition, many states offer their own tax credits to homeowners and businesses. Massachusetts, for example, offers tax incentives to individuals and business that install renewable energy systems at their homes or offices. The state of Oregon's Business Tax Credit, under certain conditions, covers up to 50% of the solar system cost. More states are climbing on the solar power bandwagon every year so it's definitely worth your while to not only take advantage of the federal tax credits but also check if there are state or local tax credits available to you as well.

Solar power panels are virtually maintenance free

Solar panels, in general, have less moving parts than traditional energy appliances so there's less to go wrong. Typically, once a year you'll have to do a visual inspection, but for the most part, assuming that you've purchased quality panels, once the solar panels are in place, there's not much you have to do to maintain them - estimates range to less than 20 hours a year.

It's been a long road getting here, but solar power is finally coming into its own. And not a moment too soon, because we can no longer afford the energy sources of the last century.

About the Author: John Kuzniar is a freelance writer who writes articles relating to solar power benefits and other energy saving resources and tips. Visit his site at .

What if you could print solar panel using magic polymers?

New Polymer materials technology might lower the cost of electricity production using solar technology to below $1 per watt for the first time. This will finally enable mass-market, portable applications for photo-voltaic technology.

In the last technology report of Nature photonics, a new technology of materials for photovoltaic panel was introduced by Russell Gaudiana and Christoph Brabec.
Polymer-based photovoltaic cells can be manufactured using standard printing processes
Most of the photoactive materials used for photovoltaics in the past focused on silicon, which in fact dominates the commercial solar-energy field today. In recent years several other materials were tested as cheaper candidates for solar panel for instance amorphous silicon (a-Si), copper indiumgallium selenide (CIGS) and cadmium telluride (CdTe). All of these are now in different stages of commercialization. They all received the nick name: " thin-film technologies ", and they are considered cheaper in means of manufacturing and production throughput. These technology are expected to lower the consts of electricity production by solar devices to less than 1$ per watt.

However, a new technology has a better potential to dramatically lower the costs of solar energy production. This technology called "Bulk hetero-junction technology" is based on organic materials which are organic semiconductors, used as replacement to silicon. These new materials can be printed over sheets, with available roll-to-roll coating and printing techniques. This technology uses " abundantly available non-toxic materials, is based on a scalable production process with high productivity, and requires low investment from the manufacturer.

The idea is to use two different semiconductors called "p" and "n" with different conductance properties. Printing them together creates an electric device called diode. On light absorption, photo-induced charges are produced by ultra-fast charge transfer (few femto-seconds) between the two semiconductor types.

This technology encompasses carbon-based materials to use as "donor" and "acceptor" of electrons in the systems. The most popular class of organic donor molecules are conjugated polymers, like polythiophenes, polyfluorenes or polycarbazoles. The choice for acceptors is much narrower — for more than 10 years substituted fullerenes have given by far the best performance.

The advantage that separates this technology from all of the others is its compatibility with high-speed and low-temperature roll-to-roll processing. The procedures are similar to those used in the printing and coating industry in that solutions of the active materials, dissolved in organic solvents or water, are applied to a plastic sheet by means of a coating applicator.
Various printing and coating technologies have proven their compatibility with organic semiconductor processing, like flexo printing, gravure printing, screen printing, slot die coating and ink-jet printing.

Many advances in the past few years were done to improve the polymers efficiency and means of production. For more details, you should read this article at nature photonics VOL 2 MAY 2008

Solar Energy...when Will it be Affordable to the Average Homeowner?


Global warming impact to our quality and cost of living is large and very catastrophic. Homeowners are well aware of the increasing energy costs to heat, cool and illuminate their homes. The increasing costs of oil and other fossil fuels are daily headlines. The insatiable demand for energy to fuel world growth guarantees that the cost of these limited fuels will continue to increase. Political/economic forces will determine the rate of increase for fossil fuels. In addition, the increasing cost of global warming using fossil fuels is slowly being recognized.

he world is slowly beginning to understand the urgent need for renewable energy sources. However, each of these alternative energy sources brings major advantages and disadvantages. An example is wind generated energy. Wind energy is available to the whole world and generates electricity competitively with fossil fuels. The technology is understood and easy to apply. But, there are big objections to a windmill in "my back yard". Also, the number of birds and bats that will be crushed with wind power generation is not a warming thought. Wind technology will be a component of our energy solution. However, because of the above concerns, we need other major solutions to meet our demand for energy sources.

This search leads us to solar energy. The amount of sun energy striking our world in one day is sufficient to supply our energy demands for a year. We will not run out of this source in the foreseeable future. The major barrier to harnessing solar energy has been cost and convenience. For example, drying clothes in a dryer is easier than hanging clothes on an outside line, thus convenience precluded efforts to find more energy efficiency. We can convert solar energy to electricity but with a major capital cost. Greater acceptance and use of solar energy will lead to lower cost.

Solar Energy:

Energy from solar energy can be divided into two major categories:

Passive Solar Energy: This technology ranges from clothes drying in the sun to solar heating for hot water and many other passive techniques. All are important for our present and future quality of life. The technology is well understood and can be implemented as economics and space conditions allow.

Active Solar Energy: One of the active solar energy technologies is converting solar energy directly into electricity. It is called photovoltaic cell or PV. This is a device that converts light into electricity using the photoelectric effect. The first working solar cells

Physics of Active Solar Energy:

The physics of photon to electricity conversion is well understood by physicists. The basic model is of a photon from the sun which strikes the cell material and excites electrons that emit electricity. This model is simple compared to the complexity of modern day semiconductors. The major variables of PV electrical generation are cell material and impurities in the cell material.

Manufacturing Technology for Active Solar Energy:

Primarily single crystal, high purity silicon has been used to generate photon to electricity conversion. The manufacturing techniques for single crystal silicon and limited quantities of pure silicon impose a high cost for PV devices. Shortages of refined silicon have been hampering production worldwide since late 2004. This shortage persists to this date and has slowed PV growth. New materials are starting to come forward which should lower the PV materials hurdle.

Efficiency growth of Active Solar Energy:

Since the silicon PV invention in 1954, cheaper fossil fuel prices largely removed solar power from the public consciousness. Annual growth of electrical generation by PV ranged from 10 to 20% percent throughout the 1980's and 1990's. Worldwide installation of PV reached 1000 megawatts in 1999. Manufacturing costs for PV arrays has been dropping 3 to 5% over the recent years. This cost drop began to expand the use of PV electricity generation. Total peak power of installed PV was around 6000 megawatts at the end of 2006. Installed PV is projected to increase to over 9,000 megawatts in 2007. The average lowest retail cost of large photovoltaic arrays has declined from $7.50 to $4.00 per watt between 1990 and 2005.

PV materials have also been improving in recent years. The most recent materials approach is to process discrete cells on silicon wafers cut from multi crystalline ribbons which form thin films. This approach is the least expensive of known technologies. This group of technologies includes amorphous silicon cells deposited on stainless-steel ribbon, cadmium telluride (CdTe) cells deposited on glass, and copper indium gallium dielenide (CIGS) alloy cells deposited on either glass or stainless steel substrates. The efficiencies of these new materials are currently at 20%. Many researchers are working to improve the efficiencies. An added advantage of the new thin films is that they are flexible and are currently being used in roofing materials.

Current Trends in Generating Active Solar Energy:

Commercial businesses like Google, IBM, BJ's Wholesale, Estee Lauder, Kohls, Target, Tiffany & Co., Wal-Mart are installing PV solar energy. From "big box" discount giants to high end commercial businesses PV solar energy is finding acceptance in 2007. The most recent retail-outfitter to become part of this trend is Macy's, which announced earlier this month that it will install solar powered systems on 26 stores throughout California. These leading companies are turning to solar power because it makes good business sense and supports their environmental initiative. Creative financial arrangements allow these companies to afford the upfront capital costs and payback their loans with energy savings. So what does all this mean to the average home owner? PV Cost per Kilowatt (kWh):

In the California market, where state incentives and net metering are in place, PV electricity prices are dipping below 11¢/kWh, on par with some utility-delivered power. Moreover, according to the U.S. PV Industry Roadmap, solar electricity will continue this trend and become competitive by 2010 for most domestic markets. The outlook is very positive for PV generation of electricity. Once the capital investment is made, the cost of PV electricity is equivalent to fossil fuels and will continue to decrease.

Cost of PV Installation:

The cost of installation is the major barrier that has to be overcome for widespread PV acceptance. Around 59% of world solar product sales installed in the last five years were applications that are tied to the electricity grid. Solar energy prices in these applications are 5-20 times more expensive than the cheapest source of conventional electricity generation. This premium is well beyond the reach of the average home owner.

Fortunately, there are financial models coming forward to enable the consumer to finance PV solar installation and pay for this installation with the electrical savings. In order to make these financial models successful, federal and state incentives are needed and the installation should be connected to the electrical grid. These connections allow the home owner to sell back electricity when excessive amounts are available and to receive electricity when solar conditions do not allow sufficient electricity. Only fifty percent of our states have modernized to allow on-grid PV solar energy.

Berkeley, California is leading the way to enable it citizens to save electrical cost and meet environmental needs. Here is how their plan works. A property owner hires a city-approved solar installer, who determines the best solar system for the property, depending on energy use. Most residential solar panel systems in the city cost from $15,000 to $20,000.

The city will pay the contractor for the system and its installation, minus any applicable state and federal rebates, and would add an assessment to the property owner's tax bill to pay for the system. The extra tax would include administrative fees and interest, which would be lower than what the property owner could obtain on their own, because the city would secure low-interest bonds and loans. The tax would stay with the property even if the owner sold, although the owner would have to leave the solar panels. The property owner would save money on monthly Pacific Gas & Electric bills because electricity generated by the solar panels would partly replace electricity delivered by the utility. After the assessment expired, the solar panels, of a simple technology that requires little or no maintenance, would continue to partly replace PG&E electricity.

The Berkeley plan is a map for the rest of the world to allow us affordable electricity and meet our responsibilities to the environment.

I have a BS and MS in Metallurgical Engineering. Thirty six years spent in the development of semiconductors. Business experience in start up business plan. Currently, an oyster farmer and interested in helping the environment by deploying solar energy. Please visit my Web Site
were constructed by Charles Fritts in 1883. These prototype cells were made of selenium and achieved efficiencies around one percent. The silicon solar cell was created in 1954. The solar cell has benefited from the development of silicon semiconductors.

About the Author:
I have a BS and MS in Metallurgical Engineering. Thirty six years spent in the development of semiconductors. Business experience in start up business plan. Currently, an oyster farmer and interested in helping the environment by deploying solar energy. Please visit my Web Site

How to Start a Solar Energy Business (cost effectively)

We are at the dawn of a solar revolution in the United States. Every aspect of the solar industry is experiencing explosive growth. Triple digit expansion in solar photovoltaic cell manufacturing, to the need for solar sales associates, to the huge demand for solar system installers. Opportunities abound everywhere. The renting of a solar energy system for your home is a new, attractive twist to the idea of switching to renewable energy. With the adoption of a leasing or rental model for residential solar electric systems, an average homeowner can now go green at home as well as build a part-time, solar energy business. The following article outlines the step by step requirements needed to start solar energy business cost effectively.

Step 1 – Understa
nding the Solar Energy Business

Environmental entrepreneurs are charged with connecting with homeowners, educating them related to their alternative energy options, and providing them with the option to rent a solar electric system. By starting a solar energy business, a person becomes a solar energy consultant, making it possible for homeowners to adopt solar (PV) technology in a simple, investment-free way. No other solar rental program makes it so easy.

This type of renewable energy business entails no up-front fees to get involved but there are time investments related to educating yourself and in turn educating the American homeowner about residential solar electric systems. The rental of solar equipment is just getting started with much adoption and growth expected. Solar energy is now cost competitive with the utility prices and homeowners no longer have to make an upfront investment to switch to solar power. They can simply rent a system and perhaps build a solar energy business on the side.

To start a solar energy business, a person does not need to be a college graduate or a seasoned sales executive. All that is needed is the desire to make a difference and share the belief with others that solar power will make that difference.

Step 2 – Structuring of Your Solar Business

As a solar energy consultant, you are trained and supported by an experienced sales manager. The sales manager will support you in your initial days of solar energy industry education, sales cycle management, and how to effectively use the free sales tools. As you progress and begin to desire more responsibility, you can become a sales manager yourself by beginning to build your own marketing team.

Step 3 – Registering and Completing the Solar Energy Training

Registering online is just the first step to working towards managing your own solar energy business. Training is the second required step in the process. This small business opportunity demands detailed knowledge of the solar energy industry.

You do not need to become an electrician or solar energy system installer but you should work to understand the difference between fossil fuels and renewable fuels, to understand how the electricity grid works, and to understand how residential solar energy works. You must be properly trained in solar energy topics and related technology so that you have the confidence to pass on this knowledge.

Training tools are available to assist you with the required testing. Training tools, testing, and ongoing support is all free. It is also important to continually build your knowledge of the renewable energy industry. This solar energy business requires no investment on your part but it does stress training and the use of training tools because accurate knowledge breaks down barriers.

Step 4 – Receiving Solar Energy Business Support

This solar energy business is centered upon ongoing support and growth. It is necessary for solar energy consultants to process solar system sales or referrals. There are free sales cycle management (CRM) tools included with this business opportunity. The sales aids make it very simple to complete the processing and help homeowners to rental a solar energy system.

These tools are provided to help build your solar energy business:

* One-on-one training from your sales manager,
* Training resources, books, brochures,
* Internal and external corporate websites,
* Help desk and knowledge base (both support and training),
* and much more.

The solar energy business explained here has a great mission. Its grassroots goal is to spread the use of clean, renewable solar electric power as simply and as rapidly as possible. This opportunity has eliminated as many obstacles as possible to both the rental of solar electric systems for home owners as well as to entrepreneurs wishing to start a solar energy business.

The overall job of a solar energy consultant is to become ambassadors for positive change in the World of renewable solar energy. Solar energy is vital to the U.S. economy, energy security, and the environment. There is a simple choice to do the right thing. By helping America to rethink solar electric powerBusiness Management Articles, you can start your own solar energy business in a very cost effective way.

Source: Free Articles from

At Solargies (Solar Energies), our objective is to spread the adoption of renewable solar energy as rapidly as possible. Daniel Stouffer is writer and promoter of green energy. Learn about Renting a Solar Energy system at

great movie - solar energy breaktrough

This movie present new technological advances of Israeli scientists,working on solar energy power production. They present new kind of panel and a sophisticated method to generate energy. Israel is one of the leading companies of solar energy technologies, but the government failed to hold these technology innovations and use it to their own purposes.

Israel should use the great skills of its scientists and lead the world forward toward a better solar future.

Six Easy Steps to Estimate Cost of a Solar Power System

Author: Cooler Planet

Solar power energy systems are not inexpensive. That said it's important to compare them within context of other types of home improvement projects. Home buyers and realtors view a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water heating system as a significant

Six Easy Steps To Estimate Cost of a Solar Power System

Solar power energy systems are not inexpensive. That said it's important to compare them within context of other types of home improvement projects. Home buyers and realtors view a solar photovoltaic or solar hot water heating system as a significant value-added improvement – similar to adding a deck or remodeling your kitchen. Plus unlike a deck or kitchen remodel, you also gain one-up on your power bills.

Solar power systems often get an additional financial boost as well: many jurisdictions and utilities across the USA offer attractive financial incentives to drive down the upfront capital costs associated with a solar power system.

Here are some foolproof ways to estimate the cost of a solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system and to figure out if a solar energy system makes sense for you. Let's start with a home photovoltaic (PV) system.

Step 1: Estimate your home's electricity needs

To get started, it's good to have a sense of how much electricity you use. You'll have a better point for comparison if you find out how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you use per day, per month, per year. Your utility bill should include that information.

Of course, the utility bill will also display your costs and many utilities include a graph that displays how your monthly energy use/cost varies throughout the year. That helps you estimate where your highest energy use is and at what time of year.

New Home Construction

If you are constructing a new home, then you'll need to estimate your demand based on the type of equipment you plan to install and your home's square footage. The pross call this "your load".

To figure out your anticipated load, create a table to record the watt use for each appliance. Each appliance – be it a water heater, electric light, computer, or refrigerator – should have a nameplate that lists its power rating in watts. Or you can get the information from the manufacturer's website.

Some labels list amperage and voltage only; to obtain watts multiply the two together (amperage x voltage = watts). In another column, record the number of hours each appliance is expected to operate. Then multiple the watts and hours together to estimate watt-hours used per day. Since it's hard to anticipate all electric loads (it may get tedious scouting out every toothbrush and mobile phone cell charger), you might want to add a multiplier of 1.5 to be safe.

Step 2: Anticipate the future

In 2005, average residential electricity rates across the USA ranged from about 6 to nearly 16 cents per kilowatt hour depending on where you lived. Average retail and commercial electricity rates have increased roughly 30% since 1999 and the upward trend will likely continue especially as costs for the coal and hydropower used to generate that electricity rise as well. So think about your home electricity needs and present and future cost in relation to one another.

Step 3: How much sun do you get?

The Florida Solar Energy Center has conducted a study to examine how a 2-kW photovoltaic system would perform if installed on a highly energy efficient home across the continental USA (

The study accounted for all factors that impact a PV system's performance such as the temperature effect on the photovoltaic cells, the amount of sun peak hours in various regions, and the efficiency of inverter to convert solar derived energy from DC to AC.

As the study implies, solar photovoltaic systems work just about anywhere in the US. Even in the Northeast or in "rainy Seattle", a pv system can pencil out if designed and installed properly. In New York or New Jersey, a one kilowatt system should produce about 1270 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, in Seattle, a one kilowatt system should produce about 1200 kilowatt hours per year. In the Southwest, of course, those ratios will be much greater.

Solar contractors in your area can help determine the best size for your solar photovoltaic system.

Step 4: Size your system

In general, solar photovoltaic systems sized between 1 to 5 kilowatts are usually sufficient to meet the electricity needs of most homes. One advantage of grid-tied systems is that you can use solar PV to supplement or offset some of your electricity needs; therefore you can size your system to match your budget and always add to the system later if needed.

Also as a side note, here's a rule of thumb to remember to help you estimate the physical space your PV system might need: one square foot yields 10 watts. So in bright sunlight, a square foot of a conventional photovoltaic panel will produce 10 watts of power. A 1000 watt system, for example, may need 100 – 200 square feet of area, depending on the type of PV module used.

Step 5: Know your rebates

Many states and local jurisdictions offer rebates, tax credits and other types of incentives to homeowners for installing residential photovoltaic and solar domestic water systems. To view a comprehensive database of the incentives available for renewable energy visit

At the Federal Level, you can take advantage of a 30% tax credit (of up to $2,000) for the purchase of a residential solar system at least until December 31, 2008.

Step 6: Run the numbers

Although the cost for a solar PV system will depend on the size of the system you intend to install, your electricity rate, the amount of kilowatt hours you expect to generate, and the state/local rebates/tax credits that may be available, the formulas for calculating the returns are pretty much the same.

For those who appreciate having the formulas, use the ones listed below to do a quick ballpark estimate of how much a solar photovoltaic system might cost you.

Retail Price for Solar Photovoltaic System
+ Building Permits
- $2,000 Federal Tax Credit
- State or Local Tax Credit or Rebate
- Utility Rebate or Other Incentive
= Net Investment

Kilowatts of electricity generated from PV per year
x Kilowatt hours used per year
= Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system

Annual Kilowatt energy from the PV system
x Current Residential Electricity Rate
= Annual $$ Saved

Yearly Excess PV Energy Produced
x $$ credit applied per watt
= Annual Value from Net Metering

Of course, a more accurate assessment can be made by a pro. Work with a solar power contractor to size and price the right system for you. As is true with any major purchase, don't hesitate to ask for several bids from different contractors.

Many solar power providers will provide you with a comprehensive estimate. Helpful information to know includes:

- Total cost to make the system operational (labor cost for design and installation and equipment costs)
- Equipment (Make and Model)
- Warranty info
- Permit costs, if needed
- Tax, where applicable
- Federal tax credits
- State or local jurisdiction tax credits or rebates
- Utility rebates
- Expected Renewable Energy Certificates or Net metering credits
- Expected operation and maintenance costs
- Projected savings

Solar Thermal (also called Solar Hot Water)

Solar thermal systems capture the sun's energy to heat water and are one of the most cost-effective renewable energy systems. They are used to heat hot water tanks and/or a heating system. A solar pool heating system is another type of solar thermal system designed specifically to heat a pool or hot tub.

Generally it's worth investigating the economic viability of installing a solar hot water system if you have an electric water heater with utility rates of at least 5 cents per kilowatt hour and have tax credits or rebates available. (It may even be worth changing out a gas-powered water heater if your costs are at least $8/million BTU).

The formulas for costing out a solar water heater system are similar to estimating the cost for installing solar PV system. Many solar energy professionals can help you determine what system might work best for you.

Heating Your Swimming Pool with Solar Power

Although few jurisdictions provide financial incentives for using solar energy to heat a swimming pool or hot tub, in general, using solar power to heat your pool is a "no-brainer" from a return on investment standpoint.

The electricity used to heat a pool during the swimming season often amounts to the same amount of energy that homes-without-pools consume over a year. Combining a solar thermal system to generate heat for the pool with a solar thermal pool cover to retain the heat generated can further maximize efficiencies and extend your swimming season.

Most installers recommend that a solar collector used to heat a pool is sized at roughly half the square footage of your pool surface area. Solar thermal panels typically last 10 – 20 years and come with a 10-year warranty.

How long it takes to break even on the cost of your solar power pool system depends on where you live. In California or other parts of the Southwest, you'll break even in 1 to 3 years but places as "far north" as Canada, a solar pool heating system pencils out over a slightly longer period of time.

About the Author:
Find more solar panel and solar power information at Cooler Planet.