Solar panels in the northern hemisphere should generally tilt south to maximize the generation of energy.  But in the US, solar panels are installed with a slightly westward tilt.  Why?  Because the power of physics is trumped by the power of economics and finance.

Electricity rates in the US are generally higher in the afternoon.  A kilowatt-hour (kwh) generated by your solar power system in the afternoon is worth more than a kwh generated in the morning.  So it makes sense to generate more kwhs of solar power in the afternoon, even if that means your solar power system loses more kwhs of potential generating capacity in the morning.

Yes, we are being intentionally inefficient when capturing the sun's power because that inefficiency generates more cash.

This is yet one more reason why the future of green and sustainable energy depends as much on economics, finance and government regulation as it does on the development of new technologies.  Indeed, as we will discuss in future blog posts, government regulations that effect the economics and financing of green and sustainable energy will determine whether or not inventors can attract the investments necessary to develop new technologies.

John Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey

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