People often look askance at the thought of solar power in Seattle - does it work?
Sure, we get our share of rain. But, our region's long summer days are ideal for solar power. This, combined with net metering programs, allows customers to acrue energy credits in the summer months they can apply to their bills in our cold, rainy winters.
As this graph illustrates, we get 74% of our annual sun in six months. If a residential solar energy system is properly scaled in relation to consumption, it is possible to generate enough summer credits to pay winter bills.
Another advantage is that solar panels operate more efficiently in our region's cooler summers, which means more power is generated per photon than in hotter climes. Solar electric panels generate more power when they are cooler, so even though Seattle gets 70% of the sun that Los Angeles does, a solar panel here will produce 80% of what it will in L.A.
Solar doesn't stop working on cloudy days, either. Diffuse light is still collected and converted into electricity. Versus a clear day, a bright cloudy day in the summer here can produce 50%.
That Seattle isn't in America's sun-scorched southwest doesn't mean solar isn't a financially and environmentally sound investment in the Pacific Northwest. Indeed, our region recieves more sunlight than Germany - a world leader in installed solar capacity.
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