3 Innovations To Solar Technology That Are Helping to Spike Demand
Harnessing solar energy is not a new concept. In fact, you’re probably very familiar with solar energy, and most likely know someone currently using solar architecture or solar thermal electricity. This is because there are countless established solar companies with the mission to make the world a “better, green place”. However, the world doesn’t need another one of these companies. The world needs solar companies dedicated to not only helping the planet and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but dedicated to making solar easier and more attractive.
A study conducted by Yale Professor Kenneth Gillingham found that solar adoption rates depend less on wealth or environmental and political beliefs, and more on whether your neighbours decide to go solar. Despite this desire — or “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality — thousands of people are still sitting on the fence unwilling to pull the trigger.
I had the opportunity to speak with the executive team at SVEA Solar, including CEO Erik Martinson, COO Nolan Gray, and President Björn Lind, about why many people are hesitant to adopt this technology, as well as the key innovations that have been — and are being — made within the solar industry.
Implementing solar technology for the average consumer is anything but easy. You can’t just waltz into your local hardware or electronic store, take it off the shelf, and throw it on your roof. Instead it’s a complicated process full of paper-work, waiting time, calculations and designs, and often permits or other applications that need to be submitted. On top of it all, the customer is generally stuck project managing the entire process — coordinating between the installer, the supplier, and the government.
Streamlining and automating the archaic steps in the process of going solar is critical. Some examples of this include using a solar software to instantly generate savings and costs using satellite images, taking care of permits for the customer, promising one-day installations, and making solar power easier to understand with simple, visual content.
Improved Curb Appeal
In addition to being easier, solar needs to be more appealing. As Professor Gillingham found in his study, solar adoption rates heavily depend on whether our neighbors make the change to solar. However, if this adoption will sacrifice the appearance of our homes, this desire is greatly diminished.
As the demand for better looking solar increases, large manufacturers like Panasonic and Tesla have invested in solar roofing and transparent window films. This is a giant step in the right direction. However, according to the Solar Action Alliance, these types of technologies, while vastly innovative and attractive, are far from being as powerful as solar panels, and the payback period is more than twice as long. That doesn’t mean that they’re a bad purchase, that they won’t be as efficient, or that they won’t provide higher cost-savings in the future, but that’s at least five to ten years down the road.
Your solar roof shouldn’t look like it’s out a sci-fi movie, but it should provide great savings and prove itself a good investment. Consider using traditional solar panels on roof space that is not exposed to the eye, and using solar tiles elsewhere.
Little to No Maintenance
Solar technology is improving every day. One of the main benefits to owning technology such as solar panels is how little maintenance they need after installation. With upgraded designs built to withstand all kinds of harsh weather, homeowners are basically able to forget about their solar panels until they receive their lowered monthly utility bill. Some solar companies even offer long — or lifetime — warranties for your peace of mind.
In addition to implementing solar in windows and roofing, ground mounted solar has also been a trusted, clean energy option — especially for those concerned about curb appeal. In the past few years, tracking mount technology has been created to allow solar panels to tilt and shift to best match the location of the sun as it moves across the sky, thus maximizing homeowner’s energy savings.
Another breakthrough is that of solar thermal fuels (STFs). MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman and his team of researchers have spent the past several years developing alternative solar storage solutions, among which is solar thermal fuels. STFs are comparable to a battery, with the STF harnessing the sun’s energy, storing it as a charge, and then releasing it when prompted.
There is a long list of innovations that have occurred in solar panel technology in the past few years — from solar water purifiers and watches to solar roads and batteries. Solar is better than it has ever been, and we are already seeing a solar market shift from that of “early adopters” to the “early majority”.
From Early Adopters to the Early Majority
If going solar was easier than paying your electricity bill and didn’t mean that your home looked like it was going to blast off into the solar system, the list of people running to adopt the technology would be infinitely longer — regardless of if they wanted to help the planet or they believed in climate change.
Several companies like SVEA are making solar easier and more attractive, and by doing so have already generated significant interest and action. To really help the planet, the solar industry needs to continue innovating for improved ease and appeal, offering beautiful installations, instant savings calculations, and easy, effortless customer experiences that customers will want to share with their friends and family.