Questionable Solar Math at the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal published one of its Pollyannish green energy articles on Monday, which begins with this photo caption under a photograph of photovoltaic solar panels: "ROOFTOP REWARD With a utility rebate and tax credit, a residential solar system in Los Angeles can save more than $21,000 over 25 years." The $21,000 figure comes from a chart prepared by Clean Power Research, "a research outfit in Seattle that has designed numerous online solar calculators."  The numbers presented are, shall we say, problematic and consistent only in their exaggeration of the payback period from investment in solar panels. Given that data is available from the Energy Information Administration, it might not have been wise to ask an industry promoter to provide figures. A glance at the Denver column, for example, predicts a "cumulative lifetime savings (over 25 years)" of $13,099.  After tax credits, the $27,500 solar system costs $19,250. The savings is $6,000 less than the cost of...(Read Full Post)