Solar Energy

Go Green!!!!

What is solar energy?

Solar Energy is the energy from the sun that is converted into electricity to power homes, businesses, schools, etc. It is a renewable and reliable resource. It produces no noise and no emissions.

How much does it cost?

Solar panels can range from $15,000 to $29,000 on an average sized systems sized between 4kW and 8kW.

Pros:

  • A one kilowatt PV system each month prevents 150 lbs. of coal from being mined, prevents 300 lbs. of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, keeps 105 gallons of water from being consumed, and keeps NO and SO2 from being released into the environment.
  • Solar power systems produce no noise or emissions. As a result, it can be easily located in densely populated urban areas, on parking structures, rooftops or on the ground.
  • By producing their own power, individuals, corporations, and other institutions can reduce energy demand on the utility grid.
  • The sun is a virtually infinite supply of renewable energy allowing for the conservation of infinite resources.
  • Solar lights are immune to blackouts.
  • By having solar panels, you can save an average of $84 per month and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • More comfortable since there are fewer drafts, better air distribution, and and less noise.

Cons

  • The "pitch" or tilt of your roof can affect the number of hours of sunlight you receive in an average day throughout the year. Large commercial systems have solar tracking systems that automatically follow the sun's tilt throughout the day, but these are expensive and not typically used for residential solar installs.

  • Hot temperatures can reduce the efficiency of solar panels.

  • With poor solar design, even a little shade on one panel can shut down energy production on all of your other panels.

  • Solar panels provide us with energy when we need it most, but one of the main disadvantages of solar panels is that the sun doesn't shine throughout our whole day. So when the sun doesn’t shine, solar panels stop producing electricity.

Types of Solar Panels

  • Monocrystalline Silicon (Single Silicone) - Most efficient type of solar panel. More expensive, but you need fewer of them. They are ideal for roofs.

  • Polycrystalline Silicon ( Multi-silicon) - Have lower silicon levels than "mono" panels, which makes them less expensive to produce, but they're also slightly less efficient. Their overall construction design can make up for the efficiency loss , so they are also good for roofs. They have thin film, which is really inexpensive and don't mind the heat, but as of now, they are very inefficient.

  • BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) - They look like real roofing tiles, but are expensive. They are less efficient than a conventional PV, which means you need a sunny spacing roof to make a dent in your electricity bill. They do not last as long as regular panels.

  • Solar Thermal Panels - Has nothing to do with electricity. Instead of paying the gas company to heat your hot water tank, solar thermal panels produce hot water for your home and/or your pool. Some systems can even provide heat and air conditioning.

Fast Facts

  • Solar power is also called photovoltaic power

  • Today, lower production costs, greater dependability and ease of use have led to a wider acceptance of solar technology, making it a major energy source across the nation.

  • As of 2014, California uses more solar power than the rest of the states in the U.S. combined. In California about 1,049,000 houses use solar panels. Whereas, in Texas only 14,000 homes have solar panels.

  • Despite the state’s tremendous potential for solar power, there are few state wide incentives to draw in more green companies.

  • In recent years numerous bills have been filed in the legislature to push for new incentives to energize the industry but very few have passed. A recent bill proposed a statewide rebate for solar projects. That initiative would have been funded by additional charges on electric bills, including a $1 or $2 per month fee for residential ratepayers. Opponents to the legislation claimed it was unfair for electricity customers to pay the surcharge when only customers that participate in the rebate program would have benefited.

  • Solar power advocates point to the potential for job growth in Texas, as new solar projects continue to pop up across the state. A 2010 National Solar Job Census ranks Texas third among states, with an estimated 6,400 solar jobs at 170 companies.

  • Blue Wing Farm in San Antonio is the largest solar farm in Texas. The 140-acre site was built in 2010 and generates enough energy to power 1,800 homes.

Tax Breaks

  • To encourage Americans to use solar power, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy run the Energy Star program, which, among other projects, offers tax credits for solar-powered systems.
  • Credits for approved solar installations: If you install Energy Star-approved solar-power systems before the end of 2016, you can claim 30 percent of the cost as a tax credit for the year you installed it. As a credit, you take the amount directly off your tax payment, rather than as a deduction from your taxable income. You can claim the credit for your primary residence, a vacation home, and for either an existing structure or new construction. Other than the cost of the system, there's no limit to the dollar amount of the credit.
  • Claiming solar credits for rental property: You can't claim a credit for installing solar power at rental properties you own. The exception is if you also live in the house for part of the year, and use it as a rental when you're away. You'll have to reduce the credit for a vacation home, rental or otherwise, to reflect the time you're not there. If you live there for three months a year, for instance, you can only claim 25 percent of the credit: If the system cost $10,000, the 30 percent credit would be $3,000, and you could claim a quarter of that, or $750.
  • Filing requirements for solar credits: To claim the credit, you must file IRS Form 5695 as part of your tax return; you calculate the credit on the form, and then enter the result on your 1040. If you end up with a bigger credit than you have income tax due -- a $3,000 credit on a $2,500 tax bill, for instance -- you can't use the credit to get money back from the IRS. Instead, you can carry the credit over to the following tax year. Energy Star states that you should be able to carry the credit over as far as 2016 if need be