If you've ever wondered whether it's feasible for you to go solar, or go wind-power, or combine/compare the two, now you can find out without having to hire an expert.
The California Energy Commission has come out with a fantastic tool: Clean Power Estimator. It's a website where you can enter your zip code and find out what it would be like to install solar PV or wind power at your house or your office building / factory.
The program gives you a quick initial answer by making certain assumptions about the size of the installation, what your monthly utility bills are, how you'll pay for the system, etc.; however, all these inputs are listed so you can tweak them to your heart's content. The program shows you how much energy you'd generate per month compared to how much you use, shows the financial costs in several different ways (and costs deferred by government tax incentives are also shown), It even shows you a little graphic of how much space the desired number of solar panels would take up on your roof. There's an amazing amount of expertise packed into this little app.
Unfortunately, it seems to not work with Mozilla, so Windows folks will have to use IE.
The site also works using Opera (7.23) on Windows.
It's just a pity my house is in Cape Town, South Africa.
What stuck me about this thingy is just how hard it is to profit from solar still UNLESS your wealthy enough or thrifty enough to be able to buy the system with cash instead of taking out a loan.
To be complete, it should also factor in the local crime rate to tell you what the chances are of the solar panels being stolen.
Heh well a big reason you dont go solar in alot of places is crime/weather/animals.
Your panels make great targets for guns or thevies or and amazingly destructive large birds of prey trying to find a spot to land.... Nothing wrecks a panel faster then having a realy fat great horned owl try to roost on it... those clawws are murder.