Why Does “Going Mainstream” Matter To You?
If solar panels go mainstream, like in California, there are a number of additional benefits that solar powered homes and businesses will enjoy. Chief among these is a strong increase in property values.
Here are the 4 reasons why solar will be (if not already) mainstream.
1) Electric Rates In The Pacific Northwest Are Going Up
Between the years 2003 and 2014, electric rates increased in Oregon by 51.4% and in Washington by 40.5%. In fact, The U.S. Energy Information Association noted that The Pacific Northwest and New England had the highest percentage increases in electricity prices of the whole country.
Importantly, these price increases are not likely to disappear. This trend of increasing electricity rates is likely to continue in response to a long list of variables that are driving energy prices higher and higher.
Why Are Electricity Prices in the Northwest Increasing?
Increasing extraction costs for oil and coal resulting from decreased availability and increased difficulty in extracting these resources.
World energy demands continue to increase and are outpacing production.
New policies working to offset climate change that is also likely to increase energy costs.
Hotter and drier climate in the Pacific Northwest equals less water for hydropower and more air conditioning use.
2) Solar Lasts A Long, Long (Long) Time
Solar panel longevity is another factor that lends this energy source to becoming more mainstream. Who knows what energy prices will be like in 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Who knows how much coal will be available or how much harder it will be to extract what oil is left on the ground in 5, 10, or 20 years?
Unlike the unpredictability of energy prices and fossil fuels, solar is here to stay and your solar panels will continue chugging away consistently for at least the next 25 years.
In addition, the plentiful hydro-power we enjoy in the Pacific Northwest does not last forever even if our climate stays rainy and wet. Unfortunately, all dams collect silt deposits, degrade and eventually fail and stop functioning over time. Usually over 50 – 100 years. Many of the dam projects we enjoy power from today were built back in the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s.
Due to the significant environmental impacts of building new dams, plus the massive input of fossil fuel energy that is traditionally required, we may not be seeing many more dam installations to replace them. Additionally, even in new dams are built, the costs will be huge and certainly passed on to rate payers in the interim.
But How Long Exactly Will A Solar Panel Last?
A good measuring stick for a solar panel’s minimum life expectancy is the manufacturer’s warranty. Most warranties today are set around 25 years, with this number slowly creeping upward to 30 years as an industry standard.
Warranties are great, but the question of what actually happens in the real-world also needs to be addressed. Yes, solar is expected to last a long time, but does it really?
3) Solar Energy is Becoming Trendy and In-Demand
Solar energy has emerged as a viable energy source and its popularity has only been increasing over the past few years. We can see the popularization of solar, first of all, in the increased number of solar systems installed in the United States, a number which grew 485% from 2010 to 2013.
According to a study conducted by the Public Utilities Commission, the number of installed PV systems in Oregon has increased from 1,000 installations in 2009 to 8,000 installations in 2013. That’s a 700% increase!
The Seattle Times published a graph showing an increased megawatt capacity in Washington State from 4.3 MW (residential and commercial installations combined) in 2011 to 8.0 MW in 2013 (that’s a 86% megawatt increase over only 3 years). The article also noted that by the end of 2013, the state had over 5,600 installed PV systems.
4) Solar is Becoming More Affordable
Improvements in technology combined with increases in the purchasing of and demand for solar have helped drive down the cost of “going solar.”
Although this graph only goes up until the year 2017, solar prices continued to drop through 2018. While prices have now stabilized with the normalization of some trade issues between the US and China, incentives have remained temporarily high. This has made the return on investment for solar energy extremely attractive for the time being.