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Solar Power For All: Does It Add Up?

Is solar power a good investment for the average householder? We take a look at some of the figures and the current incentives.

By Ross Tester

With much fanfare and breast-beating, several initiatives have been announced to convince Australians to generate their own electricity, simply by placing photo-voltaic (or solar power) panels on their otherwise-wasted roof space.

Of course, there is nothing particularly new about generating electricity from the sun. Photo-voltaics have been known about - and used - for many decades.

There are two main reasons that it has taken a recent boost in profile:

(1) "Green" is fashionable. Concern about the environment has escalated dramatically in the last decade to the point where some people are prepared to pay extra for "green" power.

(2) Perhaps even more importantly, vast improvements have been made in the efficiency of photo-voltaic cells in recent years. And with the amount of money being poured into R&D, it is expected this will continue.

Coupled with this is a very significant reduction in cost - as volumes rise, costs should continue to fall.

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