GetSolar Staff. Sunday, November 14th 2010 09:00
Some businesses and homeowners are motivated to go solar because they want to reduce their environmental impact – but for others, it’s all about the potential savings. By reducing the consumption of grid-sourced energy, solar power can slash a household or business’ energy bills significantly. But can a solar installation do more than break even and have a positive return on investment?
The answer is yes – with some caveats.
In most cases, solar arrays will have a payback period – the length of time they take to pay for themselves through energy savings – of no more than 15 years. (Solar water heating systems, which are much cheaper than home solar installations, have a shorter payback: Because they only cost a few thousand dollars, they will pay for themselves in far fewer than 10 years.)
In states with robust solar incentive programs, solar installations can take much less time to pay off. In places like California – which often have rebate programs at the municipal level – or New Jersey – which requires utilities to pay clean-energy producers for the power they generate – solar projects’ payback can be surprisingly short.
Yet even solar installations in states without strong rebate programs can pay for themselves in short order.
On November 12, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiled chemical distribution company Walsh & Associates, which recently put 416 solar panels in place at its warehouse. The array’s $500,000 price tag was offset by a 30 percent federal tax credit and a one-time, $50,000 payment from utility Ameren – but Walsh assumed the rest of the installation cost.
Even so, the company expects its solar project to be paid off in just six to nine years. The reason for the quick payoff is that Walsh will cut its energy spending sharply: By going solar, the firm will slash its $36,000 annual energy bill to just $1,500.
Assuming the array has a 25-year useful life, the chemical distributor anticipates that it will enjoy a return on investment of half a million dollars. Homeowners who go solar shouldn’t expect to save $500,000, but they, too, can see a positive ROI by installing a solar array.
Solar has environmental benefits, of course – but it’s hard to ignore the economic ones.
» November 13th, 2010 viewed 179 times
By CleanTechies at CleanTechies
Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:30pm EST
by Shari Shapiro
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a pilot program to finance $25 million in home efficiency upgrade loans: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new FHA PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.
Under the Pilot Program, HUD, through FHA-approved lenders, will insure loans for homeowners who are seeking to make energy improvements to their homes.
This pilot loan program is interesting in the wake of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) controversy, wherein property tax-based financing of home efficiency improvements were rejected by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others. More information on the PACE controversy is available here.
A big issue with the PACE structure was that the PACE loans were superior in priority to the mortgages.
Will the FHA Powersaver loans be subordinated to the mortgages on the homes? The guidance does not say.
» November 11th, 2010 viewed 464 times
|Written by Brian Westenhaus|
|Tuesday, 09 November 2010 17:5|
The Honeywell Wind Turbine needs only 33 feet of above ground clearance and just a claimed one half mile per hour wind to start up. If that proves out in the real world Canada’s WindTronics, Inc. would have a sure hit on its hands.
The company says its turbine has “higher performance output and lower installed cost per kilowatt than any other unit on the market today in class and size.” The Honeywell Wind Turbine is a gearless wind turbine that measures just 6 feet in diameter, weighs 185 lbs (84kgs) and is able to produce 2752 kWh/yr in Class 4 winds. The power magnets that flow the electrons are at the outer tips of the blade wheel and inside the shroud around the blade set.
Honeywell’s Turbine Comparison.
The Honeywell Wind Turbine’s multi-stage blades allow the system to react quickly to changes in wind speed, ensuring that the maximum wind energy is captured, without the typical noise and vibration associated with traditional wind turbines. It is designed to be installed where power is consumed, allowing home and business owners to harness wind energy in a cost effective and efficient manner.
Class 4 wind is a very large part of North American making a quite large geographical sales area. The potential is for a volume sales number that coud\ld well drive down the production costs for even more affordability. And 2700+ kWh a year is worth some effort.
WindTronics decided in 2009 to manufacture the machines in Windsor, Ontario, which has been battered by the auto crisis and recession and suffered from huge unemployment. In that context it was a good-news story because the Michigan-based parent company, EarthTronics, said the facility it was taking over was a former Magna International auto parts plant where 200 new jobs would be created.
The company web site says that the turbine’s installed cost is about half the cost of a traditional small wind turbine. It sells as part of a package that includes a computerized smart box, the inverter and an interconnect switch for wiring the system into a household panel. The MRSP is $6,495US, what Canadian pricing is – isn’t announced. Also not certain is what the installed cost would be, which is important if you want to compare it to, say, putting solar panels on your roof.
From an economics point of view small wind is very hard to justify. 2,700 kWh at say $0.10 isn’t going to get you very far – $270 against perhaps as much as $10,000 up front. But for sites with need, or little solar potential, expensive grid access and situations where the net meter rate is very good the numbers can change for the better. That and having one puts surety in service, way out at the end of a rural phase line, weather makes power matter of some concern.
For the money though, and with essentially no volume to start pricing or drive to lower production costs, the Honeywell is a powerful contender.
The other point that many reviewers overlook is the generation parts out in the shroud aren’t moving, nor is the mass moving, nor is the whole airfoil set heavily built to support it all.
That one half mile per hour start speed could have impressive returns as wind class locations of better speeds and more total annual wind time get installations. At Class 6 and running twice as long the Honeywell is b\going to look much different economically.
If you’re thinking of getting a small wind turbine the Honeywell is a must consider item.
If the WindTronics designs can last as long as the old Aeromotor windmills of old – decades on end, then the Honeywell is a small wind turbine turning point.
By. Brian Westenhaus
» November 10th, 2010 viewed 184 times
29.10.2010 kl 22:08 | IDC Energy Industry Insights Community
Now that I’ve got a decent amount of data and some suggested actions – what to do next? Well, I’ve decided the next reasonable step is a home energy audit. Lucky for me that I live in Colorado and the Governor’s Energy Office has a great website to guide me through all of the options and rebates available http://rechargecolorado.com/ By using the site I learned that my electric utility offers free home energy audits so I called them and scheduled one. Unfortunately they were busy until December, but hey at least it’s free!
I figured this was the most logical approach because it seemed like Google PowerMeter’s suggestions might not give me the biggest bang for the buck. However, the audit will undoubtedly raise some interesting issues. My home energy monitor only monitors electricity usage – not gas – and my home uses gas for space heating and hot water. What if the audit finds that my biggest savings come from reducing my gas usage instead of electric? I’ve got no way to monitor that. Yet another bump along the road of early technology adopters I suppose, but it just goes to show that the hype in this market is way ahead of the reality.
Look for my next post on this topic after my home energy audit in early December.