GE: Cutting Residential Solar Costs in Half


By Txchnologist Editor

Despite all of the excitement about the declining cost and increasing performance of photovoltaic solar, the nation’s homeowners have been lackadaisical about putting panels on their roofs. Last year, there were a record 40,000 residential solar installations in the U.S., but that number is a tiny fraction of the 130 million total homes in the country.

A team of engineers from General Electric, the sponsor of this magazine, want to increase the number of homes with solar roofs by halving the cost of a standard 5-kilowatt (KW) installation, which can provide about 85 percent of the average home’s electricity needs.

The project, called the Smart Grid Ready Residential Solar System, partners GE Global Research and its Industrial Solutions businesses with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The goal is to put 10 easy-to-install, low-cost systems on roofs in Syracuse and Albany by August.

Meanwhile, a similar project in San Diego — which is part of a separate program called the California Solar Initiative – has crews performing energy audits on 10 homes, in addition to the rooftop solar installations. The project is a partnership with San Diego Gas & Electric.

Both projects are the result of the engineers’ detective work into why solar is so expensive to install, said Charles Korman, the chief technologist for solar energy at GE Global Research. It isn’t the manufacturing cost of the technology: “Solar is as cheap as it’s ever been,” he said. Rather, it’s because there are so many different products available for rooftop arrays that every job is effectively a custom installation. And then there are the high labor costs. Most systems require specially trained electrical contractors to connect high-voltage systems.

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Published by greenlivingguy

The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from: # Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions) # Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman # Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel # Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky # Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley # Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke # Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley # Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea # and more green living books to follow.

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