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Welcome to Solar Planet's Learning Center.  Our mission is to educate our users about solar power systems and promote the adoption of solar energy. We also offer a free comprehensive guide to solar energy systems, Solar Energy Made Simple, just for signing up for our newsletter.  You can receive critical news, webinar notices, and information about ongoing events.


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Are Solar Subsidies The Way To Go?

There are two arguments about solar subsidies. Some say that solar subsidies generate investment interest from people who may have never considered an installation before. Others argue that solar subsidies cost too much and only inflate interest for the duration of the subsidy, setting up an inevitable market boom-and-crash cycle.

YES: Thanks to solar subsidies, Dave Shiels and his wife Kathleen Kiely added 72 solar panels onto their Arizona ranch rooftop. They did it for the rebates and credits, they told the Wall Street Journal. They invested $27,200, but eliminated their $5,000/year electric bill, received $12,700 from a federal renewable-energy tax credit and got another $37,600 from their local utility company for excess energy pumped back into the grid. Fans of solar subsidies argue that government incentives are essential in driving significant demand. They say it will allow prices to continue to drop, while the country catches up with solar leaders like Germany and Japan.

NO: Solar subsidies are more expensive to invest in than natural gas and coal, says the Energy Department – with a solar panel costing $210 per megawatt hour, compared to $125 for natural gas and $95 for coal. Opponents of the solar subsidies proposal say the plan will drive up costs for everyone. For example, when Mr. Shiels and Ms. Kiely received their $37,600 rebate check from their local utility company, it was actually funded by a $4.05 a month charge for solar installations that every customer was required to pay.

Have Subsidies Worked for Others?

Elsewhere in the world, there has been strong support for solar power. Germany, Japan and Spain are eager customers, which enticed China and Taiwan to join the production market to supply the demand. However, The UK Guardian argues that the solar subsidies program in Germany and the UK has been an expensive failure, costing €35bn to produce just 0.6% of the UK’s power. Both countries have voted to scale back their solar subsidies programs. Even so, Germany is considered a dominant player in the solar market and one can’t deny that the move has helped economically, as 40,000 new high-tech solar jobs were created.

What Is The Status of America’s Solar Power?

Right now, solar power accounts for less than 1% of our country’s power needs. The benefits of solar installations are numerous, however. The most power arrives when we need it most – during the daylight hours – and there is no need to build large transmission lines, as panels are installed on each individual home. The total solar subsidies hit $600 million in 2009 – half from federal tax credits, half from electricity customer funded rebates. Even though solar is viewed as “expensive,” it should be noted that the price of panels has fallen 60 percent in the last three years. The goal is to keep dropping the current $1.70 per watt price down to $1 a watt to remain competitive. Currently, the federal tax credit for solar subsidies (offering 30 percent of the cost of the solar installation) is extended through 2016.

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