I see someone in the Economist talks about his options for domestic solar power in the US, and how it has become significantly more affordable in recent years.
I know that everyone says that solar power does not make economic sense at the moment, but there is one thing I think people don't factor in: the strong appeal of semi-independence from the grid.
On the weekend, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Brisbane Ekka (a longer post will follow), and I did notice a lot of people asking at this company's display about its domestic solar cells. I think the price was something like $2,995 for a 1.5 KW system. (After rebates I presume?)
I've never looked into it much, but from what I can gather, anything less than 2 KW is hardly worth the effort. Still, I think people just like the idea of not being so reliant on the grid, even if the cost is no where near going to be recovered in electricity savings.
If (as seems certain) an ETS is going to send up electricity costs pretty quickly, the appeal of solar is surely going to increase, although again it may not actually make economic sense. If an ETS encourages more people to install solar, and thereby reduce the drain on coal fired plants, that appears to be a good thing. The issue, I suppose, is at what cost to the government, as I presume that solar will still only succeed (in the sense that many people will buy it) with heavy government rebates.
If the money the government spends on supporting solar could be spent in other ways that are more effective at reducing CO2 from coal fired plants, then it's not such a good idea.
All I am saying is that experts should not overlook the inherent appeal of free electricity from the roof.