With the news headlines over the past few weeks, I’ve been approached by people with questions. They want to know about the future of solar, the impact of potential energy policies, and where I see the solar industry headed. While I’ve been to many inspiring events previewing exciting solar developments, I’ve been surprised by some of the recent conversations I’ve had with people who do not support clean energy. This is a newer trend, and something that is, unfortunately, often not based on facts. Here’s why solar still makes the most sense as an energy solution, and why it’s more important than ever to invest in sustainability.
Your Most Efficient Path to Power
One concern that sometimes arises is subsidies for clean energy. We’ll be comparing subsidies for various types of energy in another post, but let’s explore this briefly.
Solar energy in our area is at grid parity right now, meaning it is just as cost effective as traditional fossil fuel power from the grid. A solar energy system creates clean energy every day for 30 years and beyond, with minimal maintenance required. Take away all the subsidies and the system pays for itself in 11 to 14 years. This payback could occur even more quickly (within 7 to 10 years) if we removed all the utility and local municipality regulations required to install a simple PV system on a house.
Solar PV is already competitive and will only become more so. Yet some still insist it takes too long to pay back. Let’s flip the argument. If everyone currently had solar power and you offered to sell someone air-polluting fossil-fuel electricity at twice the cost of solar power, the person would say no way. There’s no disputing the inherent efficiency, safety, and cost-effectiveness of solar energy.
Energy in the News
Why am I mentioning all this? Because the recent news in national politics has me thinking…
- December 7: New York Times: “President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency.”
- December 8: Bloomberg.com: “The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules.”
- December 13: CNN: “President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state, the transition team announced.”
We are at the front lines of a battle for the future. The clean energy industry is not going away, because it is the most logical, cost-efficient, safe, healthy and sustainable way for all of us to move forward as a civilization. Other countries are investing in the future of solar, diving headlong into this industry. The US will forfeit its position as a leader in this new clean-energy economy if it continues the types of decisions mentioned above.
“The clean energy industry is not going away, because it is the most logical, cost-efficient, safe, sustainable way for all of us to move forward as a civilization.”
A Personal Imperative
One thing stood out at the recent On-Site Power Conference I attended: there was no mention of climate change. In some respects, I can understand this. When I first started SunBlue Energy in 2009, I would rush past the environmental benefits page of each sales proposal. I knew then what has proven to be the case. People go solar because of the financial benefits it offers. The environmental benefits may be very important or not important at all to the homeowner. In any case, the homeowner’s final decision is always a financial one. It only makes sense. What has changed for me is that I’ve learned the tremendous impact one simple act can have on the earth we inhabit. So, as we discuss the future of solar, I encourage all of us who are together under one sun to take this battle seriously.
Consider the earth and what your legacy will be. You will never regret having gone solar. You may regret standing silent when those in power pushed to stunt the growth of clean energy.