by Quora original post on Forbes
What are the pros and cons of residential energy customers switching to solar?originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Yogi Goswami, Director, Clean Energy Research Center, USF, on Quora:
From the residential consumer’s point of view, there are mostly pros when it comes to switching to solar. If the consumer is adding solar while still having access to the grid electricity, I don’t really see a con, unless the cost of the solar system is prohibitive and financing is not available. First of all, the consumer gets almost free energy after the paying for the solar energy system, so you start saving on the electricity bills. Depending on the cost of the system, the payment is recovered from these savings over a certain period of time. That time depends on the initial cost, any financing costs, maintenance costs and price of the energy the consumer is saving. In most cases, the cost of a solar water heater or a PV system could be recovered in 5-10 years. The time could be smaller if any government incentives (tax credits etc.) are available. A solar system increases the value of the house also. On top of that, the consumer has the satisfaction that he/she is contributing to a cleaner environment. One additional advantage we have seen as a consumer using a solar water heater is that it comes with a large storage tank. Therefore, if one member of the family takes a long shower, the others don’t have to wait for the water to heat up before taking a shower. This is the main reason we have had a solar water heater on every home we have owned since 1979.
The situation from the electricity provider’s view point is a bit different. The pro for them is that solar systems produce the most energy during their peak time, which reduces their peak load, that is usually provided by less efficient equipment. And they don’t have to invest in additional equipment just to cover the peak load. The con for their side is that if a lot of residential customers have PV and PV generation becomes more than about 20% of their load, it introduces instability in the grid. However, if energy storage is introduced whether on the consumer side or the provider side, it can alleviate that problem.
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