Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 by Scott Siegal
Part One of our Solar Roofing 101 series gave us an overview of solar roofs and the history of solar power. Today, we’ll find out just how big a deal these roofs are.
Although the use of solar roofing is not yet as widespread here as it is in Europe, Scientific American reports that PV installations in the U.S. have still increased six-fold from 2010. Roughly 200,000 U.S. homes have solar to date, with total energy generation at 12,000 megawatts.
A lot of factors have contributed to this surge in numbers, one of the biggest being the continuous and active promotion of solar power by federal and state governments, alternative energy providers, contractors, and nonprofits. And they have very good reasons to push for solar:
Reason #1: Economy
While the upfront cost of a solar roof is still high in the context of roofing, the cost of installation has fallen by at least 60% since 2010. The average cost of solar panels is now at $0.613/watt, while average PV system prices are at an all-time low of $2.89/watt.
As for how much it will cost to put solar panels or shingles on your roof, the exact figure will depend on where you live in the US. Here are the numbers for Maryland:
And that’s not even counting the cost offset by your mains energy savings, the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit, state property tax exemptions, local rebates, and the amount you can get selling your unused energy back to the grid.
Reason #2: Reduced carbon footprint
Because solar power is green, renewable energy, a typical residential PV setup can help save over 30 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. And on a global scale, solar power saves 75 million barrels of oil and cuts our carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tons each year.
Reason #3: Increased property value
Solar roofs add an average of $5.50/watt to the resale value of your home: an average added sale premium of $16,500 for a 3-kW system, $33,000 for a 6-kW system, and $49,500 for a 9-kW system. Homes with solar also sell faster.
Reason #4: Job opportunities
Solar roof installation across the U.S. also opens up millions of opportunities for employment. Helix Recruiting says that assuming 100% market penetration by 2030, solar roofing has the potential to create 480,000 jobs for installation plus 240,000 jobs per year for maintenance. The total is a whopping 4.8 million jobs for the next 20 years.
While these aren’t the only benefits of switching to solar roofing, these are the areas where its impact is felt the most.
To wrap up this blog series, we’ll be delving into the hows of solar roof installation and how the process differs in low-slope and steep-slope applications. Stay tuned!