Gone are the days when solar power was some exotic, costly energy form reserved for moon landers. The graph below shows the dramatic decline of solar cells, the “business” part of solar modules.


Prices are down, efficiency is up. This next graph represents individual, third party testing results of various technologies. The blue lines track what has become the standard consumer panels. The slope of the emerging technologies is exciting, not only because they are improving so quickly, but also because many of them don’t rely on rare-earth materials, in which the United States is sadly poor in.


If the above graphs don’t paint a clear picture regarding the reality of solar power, let’s explore a comparison to conventional sources.  Brian McConnell put together the following graph that normalizes the cost of popular energy sources.  Note that this is logarithmic, which makes it all the more dramatic.


The takeaway? Solar power is now cheaper than traditional grid electricity in many cases. This is the point that we call “Grid- parity” and it’s exciting.  I realize that every situation is different when it comes to energy use, finances, tax status, heck, even landscaping, which all effect solar power’s applicability to any particular building. What I’m saying is that we all owe it to ourselves to understand the new economics of energy. No longer is it a question of solar power technology or cost, it’s a question of organizational strategy and the structuring of finance. The news in 2015 has been filled with corporate giants making 100% commitments to solar power. You can be sure that it’s not all about warm fuzzies – it’s about money.