The ‘Future Is Bright’ for Residential Solar

Valley News

April 7, 2013

By Warren Johnston

Solar roof panels
Photo courtesy of Edward Kern Jr.

Improved technology, expanded manufacturing and skilled installation are making solar power more affordable for home use, and government incentives are bringing the amortized monthly payments of units to about the same as electric bills...

...“One of the most dramatic things that has happened is the drop in the price of silicon, which is used in solar panels,” said Charles R. Sullivan, an associate professor of engineering at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, who specializes renewable energy.

“And the industry has gotten more mature. There have been vast improvements in the production process, and the technology is helping maximize the efficiency,” Sullivan said.

Improved technology is helping systems be more efficient in the Northeast and elsewhere, but even the older solar panels work pretty well here, Sullivan said, noting that Thayer researchers were surprised by the results of a study tracking the performance of a system that was installed at the school in 1996.

“It put out more than the predictions,” about two-thirds of what a similar system would have done in sunnier parts of the country.

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