Solar power has been hyped for decades now as one of the best solutions to our energy problems. But in simple truth it hasn't progressed the way many have hoped it would. Has that changed yet?
Installing solar power for your home is still incredibly expensive, even with government rebates, and earning your money back takes more years than most can stand to wait. So you can't really say things have turned around quite yet.
But things are looking promising.
The technology is finally showing signs of improvement. There are companies such as Nanosolar which are changing the way solar panels are made. They've developed a printable solar panel technology which will be much faster to create. They hope to drive down the costs of producing solar panels tremendously.
Scientists have also developed solar panels that are more 3-D than the traditional ones. These capture more of the light that reaches them and are much more efficient than the standard flat panels. These are not yet fully developed, but it's another step in the right direction.
Then there's Citizenre, a company that is taking the direct sales approach to solar panel installation. While they haven't launched as of this writing, their plan is to install solar panels onto home free of charge, and then homeowners pay them for the electricity they use, rather than the electric company.
The price customers pay for electricity generated by these systems stays fixed, no matter what other electricity costs may be doing. The idea here is that electricity prices are likely to keep going up, so customers can save a lot of money by fixing their rates at current levels. Add in the benefits of net metering for those who qualify, and it has the potential of being a great deal.
Then again, since the company hasn't launched yet, no one knows how well it will all work.
So no, solar power hasn't quite taken off yet, but it looks to be getting very, very close to it. There's a lot more promise there than there has been for quite some time.
The question then comes, will anything come of it all? That's much harder to say. The next year or so may well see some big changes in solar power generation, as these companies gear up and as the technology improves. But all that means little until proven. Still, these are very hopeful signs that the promise of cheap solar power is much closer to being fulfilled.