When I purchased my solar system in 2007, I never imagined the impact that decision would have on my life. My $80 annual electric bill was just the start of my love affair with solar. Within weeks, I found myself selling the stuff.
Of course, way back in 2007 the idea of going solar was a foreign concept for most consumers who were put off by the high upfront cost; the promise of ever improving technology; and a culture of consumption about to meet its untimely demise.
I remember how my friends and family questioned both my initial purchase and my surprising career move that soon followed. “Solar is the future. In a couple of years solar will be ubiquitous. Just wait until electric cars make a comeback” I argued. “It’s too expensive. It’s too new. It’ll take forever to pay back,” they countered, “Future solar technology will be better, more efficient, and cheaper. Electric cars are for dreamers.”
In 2008, the non believers seemed to hold the cards. A global economic meltdown hurt business across the board as financing ground to a standstill and many that wanted to go solar couldn’t obtain credit. The solar tax credit was set to expire on 12/31/2008 and modules were in short supply causing upward pricing pressure. It was a perfect storm threatening to swamp our nascent industry and left me questioning my departure from the software world.
Enter 2009, and everything changed. Solar module prices are plummeting as European subsidies dry up and manufacturers race to capture U.S. market share. Increased competition among solar integrators continues to drive down installation costs; and a renewed ‘cap free’ solar tax credit has pushed investment returns on solar systems into double digits for many customers. Most interestingly, I now hear daily from customers they are making the choice to forgo a new car this year and go solar instead. Why? Many declare their next car will be electric and they “want to be ready for it.”
This cultural sea change is incredibly gratifying to see. What existed on the bleeding edge in 2007 is becoming mainstream in 2009. I believe in certain markets (like California), we are 12-18 months away from a true tipping point.
With my Aptera 2e pre-ordered; a solar system chugging away on my roof; and a promising career ahead of me, the prospects for solar have never been brighter. For those readers ready to embrace a renewable future, know that your decision will influence others and that is where you’ll make the biggest impact. You must lead so others can follow. Welcome to the revolution!