What would it take to convert a housing community from fossil fuels to solar energy in the home?

Serious discussion here.

How feasible is the idea of communities, towns, even whole cities being powered by solar energy? At the most, how about these communities being fractionally powered by solar energy; 40% Solar/ 60% Fossil fuels?

We’re not getting all George Jetson, here. We have practical means by which to make something like this happen. My research has lead me to believe the problem comes in with the initial setup.

If this is so, what would it take to materialize the dollars? Should each State solicit a ‘solar energy’ tax; money dedicated to fund R&D solutions for citizens? Is it something that can be solicited to big business in exchange for free plugins; Staples invests in a solar power grid in Downtown Los Angeles… and calls it ‘The Staples Power Center".


2 thoughts on “What would it take to convert a housing community from fossil fuels to solar energy in the home?”

  1. It is really hopeless unless solar cells get much cheaper or fossil fuel gets really expensive.

    Your second source says solar panels costing $4 can make one watt of power, so $4,000 dollars worth of cells can make 1000 watts, or one kilowatt. If they get sun for one hour they would make one kilowatt-hour of power. The average home electricity rate is about ten cents a kilowatt-hour. So the $4,000 solar panel saves ten cents an hour on your electricity bill. And that does not include the cost of the electronics to run the system and especially not the cost of batteries to run it at night. To run a typical 3,500 watt central air conditioner would require $14,000 worth of solar cells.

    As I recall when I looked into putting solar panels on my roof, a $25,000 system would have saved me about $1 or $2 a day.

  2. First of all, look for existing incentives from the federal and state government. Federally, there is a 30% tax credit and some states offer as much as $5.00 per Watt rebates. You can get more information here: http://www.desireusa.org

    Secondly, there are some up and coming technologies that will offer better economics than PV panels in the near future. Check out http://www.infiniacorp.com/
    http://www.sandia.gov and http://www.nrel.gov

    Third, for the kind of project you describe, it really comes down to financing. This will be easiest if you are planning to build a new community. Find a lender (bank or government) that will allow home-buyers to roll the solar energy system into their mortgage. This practice, along with a healthy rebate, helped to make Japan the PV capital of the world a few years back.

    On a larger scale, many states are enacting renewable portfolio standards which legally require utilities to generate a certain fraction of power from solar, wind or biomass. RPS programs are also described on the DSIRE website listed above.

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