My father warned me "money doesn't grow on trees" and he was right, of course.
But I have discovered that money can fall out of the sky -- if you have the equipment to catch it.
In an age of global warming, rising fossil fuel prices and dwindling natural resources, I've learned that in Germany and a growing number of countries, solar power can give you more than just a feeling of "doing something" for the environment.
It can also give you a steady stream of income.
My roof has been turned into a cash machine, thanks to a state-mandated "feed-in tariff" that requires utilities to pay anyone who installs a photovoltaic system more than double the market rates for the electricity produced for the grid.
The 34 sleek black panels, measuring about 1 metre by 1.5 metres (yards) each, lie inconspicuously on the slopes of the roof as they quietly harvest enough power for two households -- and generate annual revenues of some 3,600 euros ($5,300).
In other words: Every day about 10 euros ($15) worth of energy from the sun (or even daylight) lands on the roof and is converted into electricity through the wonders of photovoltaic.The local utility is required, by law, to buy it off me at a fixed rate of 49 cents per kilowatt -- guaranteed for 20 years....MUCH MORE