Meaning changed thanks to four-letter word
Submitted by admin on Fri, 01/06/2012 - 09:02
Dueling headlines...NPR affiliate WNYC entitled its article "Solar Panels Compete With Cheap Natural Gas." The post at MDN referring to that NPR piece is entitled "Solar Panels Can’t Compete with Cheap Shale Gas."
Renewable energy is growing rapidly in the U.S., with wind and solar industries enjoying double-digit growth each year. Part of that growth comes from more homeowners choosing to install solar panels.With government subsidies, some people can even make a financial argument for installing the panels. But in recent years, the price of one fossil fuel — natural gas — has declined so much that solar panels are having difficulty competing.The reason natural gas prices have fallen is because production is way up, thanks to hydraulic fracturing......Barbara Scott had 21 solar panels installed last March on her house in Media, Pa. Scott's family was the first in the community, and she was prepared to evangelize, "We can have open houses and write newsletter articles and promote the idea of solar," she said. But that was before the economics changed.With government rebates and tax incentives, Scott says, her family spent $21,000 to install the system. She figured it would take eight years to recoup that investment.A lot of other people had the same idea at the same time, which sent the price of solar energy credits down sharply in Pennsylvania. Scott says that added another seven years to the payback period.On top of that, Scott says, electricity rates aren't going up as quickly as she thought they would, thanks in part to low natural gas prices."So that, again, adds another two years to our payback period," she says. "We're up to 17 years, which is, essentially, the life of the system. And we haven't even considered what happens if the system breaks or what it's going to cost to take the system off the roof and dispose of it"...