When considering whether or not to look into the potentially enormous benefits of solar power, many people worry whether they get sufficient sunlight to generate their own electricity. “I’m covered in clouds three months out of the year” they worry. Such worries are not grounds for missing out on an investment in solar power.
With solar panels, a cloudy location is far from being a deal-breaker.
It turns out that the full picture is more complex. Solar technology has come a long way in the last 30 years. Newer, better materials and highly efficient designs have dramatically improved the efficiency of these standalone home power stations. This means that modern solar panels are highly capable of converting the sun’s potential energy – even on cloudy days. For anyone who has received a nasty sunburn while skiing in the Appalachian Mountains or boating on Lake Norman on cloud-covered days, this should come as no surprise. Much of the sun’s radiation easily penetrates even heavy cloud cover. Modern panels have no difficulty making use of this cloud-penetrating radiation, retaining as much as 85% of their energy production – even on days with total cloud cover.
When it comes to solar power, asking the right questions is imperative.
That brings us to the real question that anyone who is considering solar power as a practical means of reducing their electric bill should be asking: “Given the rising cost of electricity in my state, will solar power offer net savings on my power bill?” As it stands, the installation of residential solar systems may produce a 12% internal rate of return on the investment.
Compare Germany’s average 3.08 sun energy hours/day with North Carolina’s 4.8 average sun energy hours/day. North Carolina’s average solar irradiance is 55% higher than the relatively cloudy Germany – a world leader in solar power. In June 2019, photovoltaic energy become Germany’s largest energy source. Imagine the potential in the Carolinas for harnessing this tremendous free, clean, renewable energy source!