Financing microgeneration in Bermuda and elsewhere,

C Robb W. 444°

As the economy continues its tailspin towards terminal velocity, many will find the costs of installing renewable energy systems a deal breaker. Though the costs of systems are dropping, PV panel prices are set to decrease by as much as 40% by year end, (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009478.html) and will continue to drop as economies of scale kick in, the cost of having a system installed can be multiple tens of thousands of dollars. Anyone out there tried to borrow that kind of money lately? There is a real danger that just as the technology becomes affordable, the grid gets upgraded, and the incentives are put in place, the people will be worried about affording food and will not be able to even consider renewable energy. Even without that scenario efforts need to be made to insure that RE is not just some niche nifty technology for the rich. It must be made available to all.

The cities of Berkeley and Portland have come up with creative solutions. Read more about their financing options at openalex.(http://openalex.blogspot.com/2009/03/berkeley-alternative-solar-financing.html)

The Berkeley solution requires active participation from government, but then changing the dominant paradigm should necessarily involve governments' active participation. Here's an excerpt from the post about it on openalex,

"On a typical $22,000 solar system, homeowners would pay about $180 a month on their property taxes. But the amount is reduced when factoring in PG&E rebates, which range from $2,000 to $15,000, plus a federal tax credit that allows homeowners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of the solar system from the overall amount of tax they owe."

I have heard some encouraging rumours about positive developments with government and Belco, the energy monopoly on the island. The Bermuda government energy green paper is just out, I'll peruse it and get back to you.

1 reply

Charles M. 110°

Anything that has to be propped up by rebates etc is going to continue to be a rich toy. If the owners are not paying for it directly then they're just paying indirectly through taxes.

The $1/W level has supposedly been reached on PV manufacturing costs. Since, as a broad guide, selling price should be around x3-x5 manufacturing cost we should see $4/W PV on the streets sometime soon.

Written in March 2009

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