August 14, 2017
A Simple Future for Solar.
For prospective customers the least expensive integration point for solar energy is at the front of the construction process. Imagine this. Entire neighborhoods with homes that have rear roofs facing in a general southern direction. Families tour the neighborhood, looking at houses, schools, parks, and so on. They tour a home that they like and eventually will come to love. After viewing kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms, they step into the back yard where they discover the cherry on top: 20 sleek and shiny solar panels completing the picture of the serene landscape. Spread over the life of the mortgage the cost of the system in monthly payments is minuscule. Monitoring included, Warranty agreement included. Simple purchase and simple operation. Why not?
As a society we expect our homes to come with in-door plumbing. We expect them to come with artificial ventilation (HVAC). Are these things cheap? Yes and no. No because of the amount of science, development, installation work, and planning that goes into ensuring that the home has these features as standard equipment (and if you want premium equipment you can expect to pay more). Yes because when these features are required for every home, most of the costs are spread over the thousands of projects that the companies manage. It culminates in solutions that are much more affordable, even to the customer with the most modest budget. In the state of California there is a county for example that has taken the lead in this approach by writing solar energy into the local residential and commercial building code. Time will reveal the effectiveness of this approach on progress toward renewable energy portfolio goals as well as reducing market prices for solar energy systems, but it is this kind of thinking that will usher in next age for solar energy: the age of normal rather than novel.