I enjoyed reading Mark's response to his friend's question:
"What’s your purpose of getting solar panels? If it’s to save money, then there are better ways of doing that. Get better insulation, new windows, new furnace, turn off lights… I don’t think it’ll increase the resale value that much either. If you want to help the environment, some cities have a green power program where you pay extra and have some of your energy from renewable sources. Or do you want to be the Unabomber and live ‘off-the-grid’?".
He wouldn't want me to share it, but since he doesn't read this it's ok ;)
... My thoughts were a little unibomber, a little save the environment, and a little hybrid car. Along the lines of what could be done to a house to improve it for resale. Now $25k solar-electric is probably not a good answer but here's where the hybrid car come in. (put on your boots, Kelvin it's about to get deep!) It seems to me that the kind of people who buy/drive a hybrid are interested in saving the environment, making a statement, and doing little else. The hybrid is perfect for that. It still uses gas which is available everywhere, everyone recognizes it gets better gas mileage and therefore saves the environment. So it's hands off, low maintenance. But what about running biodiesel in a super efficient diesel like a diesel golf. One could argue that it takes a lot less energy to build the golf than a hybrid, gets great gas mileage and therefore saves the environment. So the problem is, where the hell do you get the biodiesel? So the biodiesel golf I'm going to attribute to living off the grid, unibomber style. It's high maintenance like an off the grid solar system. Whereas a grid-tied solar-electric system would be like the gas-electric hybrid, super low maintenance. It seems to me that the same kind of person who buys a hybrid car would also be interested in a solar-electric, grid-tied house. It saves the environment, makes a statement, and nothing else needs to be done. It's perfect for the apathetic environmentalist...