When people imagine the ideal geography for solar panels, they will typically picture a wide-open space in a dry, desert climate under a cloudless sky. And while sunny climates can be ideal for generating solar energy, the same benefits can be achieved in a variety of locales.
The great state of Texas has a wide diversity of climates. For example, some areas like the Texas High Plains stay relatively dry and sunny, while other cities like San Antonio, can be extremely hot and humid with flash thunderstorms. Yet the use of solar energy continues to increase across the state.
Green Solar Technologies Marketing Director, Jorge Ricalday, says, "We see our number of Texas installations rising all the time as more and more people learn about the extraordinary benefits of solar energy for their homes and businesses. Not to mention, we're actually partnered with Mission Solar, which is an American solar panel manufacturer based in San Antonio, Texas."
With the rapid improvements and breakthroughs in solar technology, the efficiency of solar energy systems continues to rise apace. Because solar energy conversion has become so efficient, the electrical power produced by these newer systems has become measurably greater. So when there are sunnier days, these systems can store any extra energy that isn't used and save it for a rainy (or cloudy) day.
Another advantage to the storage of solar energy is that any extra energy that a system absorbs can be sold to utility companies which not only helps reduce the amount of fossil fuels used by utility companies but can also be great for bringing in extra cash.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of solar for Texas and the rest of the country is just how affordable solar has become. Prices of solar have dropped 99% over the past 40 years and are now at an all-time low.
"Our customers are always blown away when they find out how much they'll pay for their system versus how much return on investment they'll see," says Ricalday, "Not only does it increase their property value, but it also lowers customers electricity bill to virtually nothing."
Additionally, there are generous tax incentives for going solar. Through 2019, the Federal government is offering a 30% tax credit to those who purchase a solar energy system, so for a $30,000 system, customers can receive $9,000 back on their taxes. That's an incredible inducement to install solar before the year ends.
Some Texas cities also present their own incentives. Austin, for example, offers a rebate of between $0.50 and $0.80 per watt installed. And their Value of Solar Tariff pays back $0.113 per kilowatt hour generated by a system. CPS Energy of San Antonio offers net metering and feed-in tariffs to residential customers. With Net metering, customers bills are calculated only for the difference between what they draw from the utility grid and what they export back from their solar production. If their solar generation exceeds their grid consumption, CPS applies a feed-in tariff of 1.65 cents/kWh, which shows up as a credit on their next monthly bill. Houston and Dallas also offer their own generous net metering systems.
"Through and through, Texas is an ideal state for solar energy. When we follow up with our customers from Texas they tell us that they couldn't be happier with their decision to go solar and break away from relying on their utility companies," says Ricalday, "And on our end, we're happy to make a positive difference in their lives—helping them save money and contribute to a cleaner environment for their communities."