How Much Does Solar Energy Really Cost?

For those who have decided to pursue a career in solar energy, the cost might come as a bit of a surprise.

While it is true that solar energy technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible, the cost associated with installation and operation of a commercial-scale solar power plant is still quite high. A rough calculation by the Solar Energy Industry Association puts the cost of electricity generated by a solar panel at around 5¢/kWh. Multiply that by the amount of energy you need to power your home, and you’re looking at an annual cost that exceeds $1,000.

So, if you’re looking to invest in renewable energy, how much are you willing to spend? We took a look at the costs associated with solar energy production as well as how much electricity you might actually be able to generate.

The Cost Of Solar Energy Production

The cost of solar power production varies greatly based on where you’re looking to site your panels. As a general rule of thumb, the further you are from the equator, the cheaper the solar panel prices are. But even then, the cost of solar energy can still be rather high. In 2018, the average price of a solar panel system was about $16,000, which is certainly a lot of money for those who want to pursue this energy source.

The cost of the installation also varies based on where you are. In general, the more elaborate the installation, the higher the cost. This is mostly due to the fact that it takes more people to install and connect the various systems. Based on this, we can estimate that the cost of a solar panel installation ranges from $20,000 to $30,000. These figures are certainly high, but may seem reasonable if you’re looking to invest in a renewable energy source.

The cost of operation is yet another factor to consider, especially if you’re looking for a free source of energy. The more advanced the technology used to operate the solar power plant, the higher the cost. This is mainly due to the fact that more experienced technicians are needed to maintain and upgrade the equipment. Based on this, we can estimate that the cost of operating a solar panel plant ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 per year.

So, how much does solar energy really cost? It depends on where you’re looking to site your panels and what kind of technology you want to use to produce the energy. But at the end of the day, it still costs a lot.

Other Considerations

Aside from the cost of the equipment itself, there are a number of other factors to consider when figuring out how much solar energy you’ll end up generating for your home. The first is the amount of sunlight that you can expect to receive, based on the location of your home. The second is the time of day that you’re likely to get the most energy. As the Sun rises and sets, it provides us with some of the most powerful natural light, so the more hours that it shines directly on your home, the more energy that you’ll likely generate. The third is the angle at which your roof is oriented towards the sun. The more you can stack up on the south side of your roof, the better. This will help maximize how much energy you can get from the Sun.

Let’s take a look at how much electricity you might actually be able to generate using these different factors.

South-facing Roof

So you’re looking at a south-facing roof and you want to know how much energy you can generate? It’s not as easy as it sounds. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine how large a rooftop you can build that will fit over the area where you want to place the panels. Once you have that figured out, it’s a simple matter of multiplying the efficiency of the panels by the area that you have available. So, if you have a 10-kilowatt (kW) system, you’ll be generating about 10,000 watts of electricity (@ 5¢/kWh), which is a significant amount. But it will be intermittent, so you’ll need to store it in some form, be it batteries or a cloud-based system. There are a number of factors that you need to consider before making this decision, as you’ll be investing in a long-term source of energy for your home.

Location Of The House

So you live in an area where winter is the dominant climate and you want to generate more electricity during those months? Or perhaps you live in a place where the climate is more consistent and you want to rely on solar power all year round? If so, then you should look into what kinds of technologies are available for that. Generally, you’ll want to look for systems that are designed for your specific location in order to get the most out of it. Some of the things that you’ll need to check for are:

  • Ample foot traffic
  • Plenty of sunshine
  • Low winds
  • Clear weather
  • Frequent electrical outages
  • Punctual daily charging
  • Reliable source of energy

Knowing what to look out for can help you determine how much energy you’ll actually be able to generate, and what other factors will come into play. For example, if you live in a place where it gets a lot of snow and you want to be sure that you can still supply your home with electricity in the winter, then you’ll want to avoid off-grid, DIY solar setups that might not perform well in sub-zero temperatures. You should also look into what are the regulations (if any) regarding the installation of large solar photovoltaic systems near major electrical cables and power lines. This might be a major issue especially if you live in a place where there are frequent thunderstorms or extreme weather conditions. In that case, it might be a good idea to look into other options besides solar energy.

Year-round Security

So you want to be sure that you can generate electricity 24/7/365? If so, then you’ll need to figure out what are the times of day when you’ll need the most energy and plan your schedule around those times, so that you can get your panels facing in the right direction at all times. This can be rather challenging if you don’t know when (and if) the Sun will shine. You might want to look into using automatic weather stations that can tell you when the Sun is up and down, and adjust your panel angle accordingly. In the winter, the Sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky and there are fewer hours of daylight, so you might want to consider placing your panels on the roof toward the end of the winter and into the spring, when the Sun starts to rise higher in the sky and provide you with more energy.

How Much Does It Cost To Operate A Commercial-Scale Solar Power Plant?

Once you’ve determined how much energy you can generate with the system installed on your roof, it’s time to move onto the next step and find out how much it costs to operate this solar power plant. When you have a functioning solar power plant, you’ll need to consider a number of different factors, including but not limited to:

  • The cost of electricity
  • Maintenance cost
  • Depreciation
  • Fuel cost
  • Water cost
  • Insurance costs
  • Security costs
  • Labor cost
  • Dry-season electricity
  • Transportation cost
  • Taxes
  • Financing cost

Each of these factors varies widely based on where you are and what kinds of equipment you have. But at the end of the day, all of these factors need to be considered in order to figure out how much it costs to operate a commercial-scale solar power plant.

Cost Of Electricity

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint and invest in renewable energy? You may be interested in how much electricity you can actually generate for your home, rather than looking at the cost of the equipment itself. While the price of solar equipment continues to decline, the cost of electricity generated by a solar panel (around 5¢/kWh) still puts it far outside the budget of the average American. This is largely due to the fact that solar power plants are typically only as efficient as the least-expensive component within them. This means that the overall cost of generation is driven largely by the cost of the electricity. The good news is that the price of that electricity is coming down thanks to technological advancements and reduced production costs. This trend will continue as more and more people adopt renewable energy sources into their everyday lives.

Scroll to Top