Schools Making to Move to Solar Energy

It’s no secret that schools around the country are struggling right now. Spurred by the 2008 recession, low tax revenues, and a struggling housing market, public education is looking to save money wherever it can. Many school districts are shutting down extracurricular activities or laying off teachers, but others are taking the opposite approach and actually investing in their facilities.

How can a school possibly save money by spending it? I know it sounds strange, but think of some of the things we all do to save money. If we want to buy a lot of food, we buy in bulk. Sometimes to qualify for a coupon, we have to spend $50 at a store. At home, we switch out old incandescent bulbs for CFLs or LEDs. All of these things cost money, but we actually end up saving money in the long run.

Solar panels save money. School districts, colleges, universities, and vocational institutes are all starting to give alternative energies serious consideration, and solar technologies are at the front of that list. With their financial burdens expected to increase by 6% year after year for the next decade, they need all the savings they can find.

Higher Efficiency and Lower Cost

In the past, any energy savings didn’t add up to the initial purchase cost and installation, so they weren’t cost effective. If they did finally pay for themselves, it was over a period of decades instead of years. Fortunately, that situation has completely changed in the last decade.

Just like any other technology, millions of dollars in research has yielded some pretty remarkable advances. Solar panels are more efficient than ever before, meaning they convert a higher percentage of sunlight into usable electricity. Higher efficiencies mean homeowners, companies, or other organizations need fewer panels to produce the same amount of electricity, and fewer panels means less money.

Manufacturing processes have also improved. Literally any manufactured good becomes cheaper to produce in bulk, and the same research that made photovoltaic panels more efficient also made them cheaper to manufacture.

However, the cost of solar is just one side of the equation. The point at which alternative energies like solar become cost effective is determined by the cost of electricity purchased from the grid. As energy costs continue to climb upward, alternative energies with falling prices become increasingly attractive.

Today, the average installed price for a solar array is around $3 per watt. If we consider the average price of a kWh to be a relatively cheap $0.12, those panels will take about 14 years to pay for themselves. Let’s assume an array costs $2 per watt, and the price of electricity from the grid costs $0.15 per kWh, that same solar array would only take about 7 years to pay for itself.

Future Trends

A photovoltaic panel’s price per watt is expected to drop to just $1 in the next decade, at which point the technology will generate mainstream appeal. Until then, government and utility incentives to pursue eco friendly upgrades, including tax credits and other rebates, will help drive demand over the next few years.

Everyone wants to help the envrionment and increase sustainability of energy sources for the future. Let J Five electricians in Plano, be your partner in the eco friendly  movement.

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