Monday, November 23, 2009

Internet Intercedes to Make Solar Cheaper

While researchers have struggled for half a century to push down the cost of solar photovoltaic modules, an innovative web service is creating communities of customers who pay less for solar panels through collective bargaining with installers. But all the other stuff that goes into putting that module at your house costs money, too. Solar people call this the “balance-of-system” cost and that’s where One Block Off the Grid is making an impact. By creating volume for solar installers and doing some of the sales and marketing work, they can get those installers to offer lower prices to their customers. The net result is cheaper solar power, even if the technology doesn’t shift at all. “These costs do vary so it’s hard to say how real the cost savings might be, but their story is credible,” said Chris Marnay, who researches distributed energy systems at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in an email to Wired.com. More>