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For decades the solar industry has struggled to legitimize itself in the eyes of solar energy skeptics. First overcoming the myths that solar does not work and lately that solar energy cannot be effectively integrated into the utility grid. However, in spite of solid research and industry experience, the final, seemingly unassailable solar argument proffered by solar energy skeptics is that solar energy is not "economically viable."
"Economically viable" solar power generation is a real stretch for solar energy skeptics because the cost of unsubsidized solar appears to be much higher than the cost of conventional generation. In response , solar advocates over the years in great frustration default to the well-worn arguments of "externalities," "its the right thing to do," "global warming," and "do it for our kids." All quite valid, but unfortunately these arguments tend to fall on the deaf ears of these reasonably-motivated-economic skeptics. The most recent attempt to appease these skeptics is the promise of "grid parity," which unfortunately without the full valuation of the benefits of solar energy (and negative valuations of conventional generation) plays right into the solar skeptics economic argument and drives the industry to make manufacturing, installation, and business decisions that are not sustainable economically or environmentally.
Recently, a study was released on the state of New York that that suggests that solar electric installations provide between $0.15 to $0.40 cents of value per kWh to ratepayers and taxpayers. These results provide a valid response to the skeptics, economic justification for solar incentives, and policy tools to increase the rate of solar implementation. In short, there is no need for the solar industry to race to the bottom as long as steady, intelligent, long-term, sustainable energy policy guides us. Solar advocates and solar skeptics can all live under one roof…, a solar roof.
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