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Making and Saving Money with Solar

Producing electricity through solar power is not only eco-friendly but can also benefit your finances. Whether you aim to reduce your electricity bill at home or in your company or avoid the expensive connection fees for a new building, solar energy can often lead to cost savings. Furthermore, subsidies, grants, or other financial incentives are frequently obtainable to make purchasing solar more appealing. In certain instances, these incentives alone can cover the cost of your solar installation within a few years.

The Ever Rising Cost of Energy

The world faces an energy crisis. Traditional forms of electricity production, using coal, oil, or gas, may be comparatively cheap but come at a high cost. The cost to the environment is enormous, fossil fuel price fluctuations create uncertainty, and the security of our energy supplies is a constant fear, responsible for more wars worldwide than most politicians would care to admit. Oil and gas prices fluctuate wildly. A barrel of crude oil can fluctuate by $10 in a single day. Since 2003, a barrel of crude has been as low as $22.17 (April 2020) and as high as $193.06 (June 2008).

Most countries recognize the problem of price instability and have been implementing renewable energy schemes to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Yet this, too, comes at a price. Investment in new power stations and new technologies for energy production is expensive. Many countries, including the EU, Australia, and the United States, have aging power stations and have suffered decades of underinvestment in new technologies. While this is now changing, the costs for these changes are enormous and are reflected in the price we pay for our energy.

In the United States, home energy prices have almost doubled over the past ten years, and the outlook for the next ten years suggests prices could easily double again.
Solar can become cost-effective for many homeowners because of this constant increase in energy prices. This is particularly true where there are government incentives to help fund solar, but even where these are not available, and solar can often be cost-justified by comparing the cost of installing a solar energy system to the likely combined cost of electricity bills throughout ten to fifteen years, once energy inflation is taken into account.

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Installing Electricity to a New Building

If you want to install an electricity connection to a new building, installing your own solar power station can often be cheaper than installing the power lines. This is particularly true if you live in a rural location where power lines may not run close to the building. Even simple connections to a roadside property can easily cost several thousand. If your property is suitable for solar power, it can quite quickly become more cost-effective to go completely ‘off grid’ and create all your own power from solar.

Of course, there are limitations to this approach. It would be best if you produced all the energy you use, and you will need to keep a watchful eye on your electricity usage to ensure you do not run out. You may need to supplement solar with other forms of power generation, such as a wind turbine or a small generator for emergency use. Yet this can be a practical option for many locations where a conventional electricity connection is otherwise unaffordable.

Subsidies, Grants, and Other Financial Incentives

Many countries brought subsidy packages, grants, and other financial incentives to encourage solar uptake. As prices have fallen, however, many of these subsidies have now been scaled back or withdrawn completely.

It is possible to generate income from solar through the sale of electricity through an export tariff. If you are putting in a large-scale solar farm, this income can pay for the complete installation over an 8–12 year period, possibly even shorter if combined with battery storage. For small-scale solar, however, the income from selling surplus electricity back to the grid is unlikely to be significant.

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Grant Schemes, Low-Interest Loans, and Tax Rebates

The government directly pays grant schemes, low-interest loans, and tax rebates. Some politicians and the broader electorate often resent the use of tax-payers money as a green energy subsidy. Although a few schemes are still available worldwide for specific applications, grants for installing solar are becoming much rarer.

Financial Incentives in Different Countries

Financial incentives for installing solar are constantly under review, reflecting both the reduced cost of solar and the popularity of solar installations. As well as country or region-wide incentives, there are often specific incentives for different industries, particularly in the agriculture, new build, and social housing sectors. It is always worth searching online to find out what incentives may be available.

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