In the next 5 years the most sustainable and reliable family business will be having a roadside store with an expansive parking lot. Soon there will be technology to make a parking lot convert the sun’s rays into electricity. The efficacy of this technology will be so great that it will spawn a new wave of enterprise on the highways of our nation. The prosperity won’t just be with the store owners themselves, it will be with the working class who is involved in laying this road surface down to keep up with the industry’s demands. As new innovations with this material come to light, our roads can potentially harness the sun’s power so we can ween ourselves off of nuclear energy.
Solar energy is very attractive to the average homeowner who loves the idea of passive income. He knows that the energy he doesn’t use can be sold to the power company, making him a profit. So why isn’t solar energy a more prominent part of American home ownership? The reason is that even with modern day materials, it takes about 7 years to recoup the cost of installing solar panels on a roof. This is even with green tax credits in your favor. And what happens if a hurricane comes and rips off your solar panels? You would have nothing. Now we can see the value of embedding solar panels in the asphalt. They will always stay on your property, working on your behalf.
The Obama administration has already made a first round of grants to energy companies which have ended in bankruptcy. Since then the government has learned from its mistakes and has given a sizable grant to the company 3M to create solar tape. The power generating possibilities of this kind of tape seem endless, and actually fun. Who could believe that 4 rolls could provide your electric car with enough energy to be virtually self reliant? Think of the value of a dead tree in your back yard. Just cover it with this tape and you would have an electric generator that your local zoning board would have no say in. And there would be no installation fees to pay.
To the do-it-yourselfer, I say it makes sense to try solar energy on your property now. If you can get the right materials and aren’t afraid of learning, you will probably see a return on your investment after a year of installation. But the remaining 99% of us will have to wait a while before solar energy can provide the kind of quick returns that we should expect to see.
It’s funny that I created this post on May 8th, 2014 and the next day there was news of a company called Solar Roadways trying to raise funds for its solar tile invention. How prophetic is that? Anyway, the company plans to use it on driveways and roads. It is so robust that cars and trucks can drive over it while effectively collecting solar energy. I can say with confidence that the solar revolution has finally come. Truthfully, this invention could have been a reality 20 years ago, but the necessity just wasn’t there. Thanks to the foresight and ingenuity of Solar Roadways, in the near future we could all have daily passive income as our driveways do the hot and demanding work for us. I believe Solar Roadways is a key company to watch in the coming years for investment opportunities.
When we look at the solar tile prototypes, it is easy to get excited about the many applications there could be. The big sticking point is how you would change the DC current generated from the tiles’s photovoltaic cells into AC current. A solar inverter is needed for this and currently they are bulky and somewhat expensive. Fortunately Google has created the “Little Box Challenge” which will award $1 million in prize money to anyone who can make a small and cheap inverter. After Google decides on the winner, passive income through solar will be attainable by almost anyone. This will be an essential key to successfully harness the sun’s power for the typical homeowner. Currently there are about 6 inverters that have notoriety but as I said before are too big and expensive (SMA, Xantrex, Power One Aurora, Samill Power, Growatt and Ever Solar). Another drawback to using a modern day inverter is that they are only insured for 10 years whereas your roof solar panels are insured for 20 years. This means that fixing your inverter will detract from the overall savings that your solar system will be giving you.
Speaking of drawbacks to having a roof solar system, in order to qualify for government tax write offs in the US, a slanted roof must be facing south. That disqualifies a lot of homeowners. Also, if you need to change or fix the roof itself, you would have to disassemble the whole solar system that you’ve installed. People who are considering a solar system would also be surprised to learn that it would take about 3 months from the signing of the contract to installation. Reasons include an engineering inspection, electric company approval and busy schedule of the solar panel company. Green people might want to overlook all this and still tack on a solar system. But pragmatic people might say that a $12,000 investment ($30,000 before government rebates) is better spent on an investment vehicle which promises quicker returns. I personally would choose the latter. Or better yet, I’d wait for the new solar panel pavement to come out with super cheap inverters supplied by Google.