Does location matter for solar panels

The obvious answer would be yes but maybe it’s not so important? I am really surprised that a small country like Germany with that little sunshine and many rainy days is the world leader in producing energy from photovoltaic (PV). According to an article from Reuters in May 2012:

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity

The declared goal of the EU is to generate 20% of the energy from renewable sources by 2020. They are in a good position, I hope the will reach their goal.

But where does this leave the US and Canada? When I drive around in California I barely see any PV installations on the rooftops. Here is a map of the national solar photovoltaics (PV) resource potential:

National solar photovoltaics (PV) resource potential

If you happen to live in an area that has a green, yellow or red color (yes – that is almost anywhere in the US) you can be certain to have at least as much sun as Germany!

Here is an even better resource where you can calculate the savings you will get from generating energy yourself: A Performance Calculator for PV Systems
(version 2 with nice GUI available here)

I did the math for my home location in Los Angles: a 2kW PV system (these are just 8 panels) will generate 3000kWh per year and this equals to $425 not spend on your energy bill! If  your energy provider has switched you to a Time-of-use (TOU) meter you might have even bigger savings.

Go green and spread the idea of distributed energy generation!

Recommended also: Manifesto, Residential energy consumption

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