Published 3 weeks ago.
About a 6 minute read.
A lot of concerns that remain barriers to more widespread adoption of residential solar can be addressed with relative ease through tailored messaging.
It seems like it’s become bigger than ever. You drive around a neighborhood and
more homes than ever are topped with solar panels; and with today’s government
incentives and shrinking prices, things seem to only be getting better for the
While there’s no doubt the boom is happening, according to the Solar Energy
Industries Association, the percentage of US homes with solar energy is still
only hovering at around 5
— almost 11 times the amount seen a decade ago, but still a far cry from
dominating the energy market.
Although the horizon looks good, many challenges remain.
Today, solar energy is more affordable than ever before. Only 10 years ago,
those with rooftop solar panels were on the more affluent side of the
socioeconomic spectrum. This is no longer the case; but price is still a barrier
to the adoption of solar energy for the average US homeowner.
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The average price for a residential rooftop solar system is around $20,
650, much lower than
$50,000 a decade ago; plus, there’s the benefit of long-term savings. However,
as short-term thinking is a common psychological
in just about every human being on earth, the upfront cost is still cause for
hesitation for many average consumers.
Here are a few more things to consider for solar energy companies trying to
convey the right message to the public about the benefits of this growing
industry that provides so many benefits on so many levels.
Unfortunately, as with nearly every issue of modern-day life, political leanings
weigh heavy on how certain groups of individuals perceive everything from the
to the type of car you drive and, of course, the way you decide to power your
California continues to lead the nation in the adoption if solar energy; and
overall, 8.9 percent of
homes in the Western US have rooftop solar panels on display, followed by 4.7
percent in the Northeast
— which tends to lean Democrat; and only 1.7
percent in the South and
1.4 percent in the
Midwest, both of which tend to lean more conservative.
In 2019, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s “Planet of the Humans”
some of the environmental issues wrought by the renewable energy industry.
Some of the issues highlighted in the film are true — solar is not 100 percent
“eco-friendly,” nor can it be marketed as zero emissions. Solar panels require
raw materials such as minerals, metals and
— which are energy intensive to mine and produce — as well as hazardous
chemicals. And increasingly opaque global supply chains have raised
in the industry. But perhaps the biggest concern for environmentalists is land
which affects soils and natural habitats.
The good news is a lot of these concerns can be addressed with relative ease
through tailored messaging when communicating with potential consumers of
residential solar energy.
Let’s start with people’s financial concerns: The price of solar has declined by
a whopping 54
in the last 10 years; and the US government has enacted additional incentives
for low-income and disadvantaged communities, which guarantees at least 20
total electricity bill savings for eligible households, funded by the Inflation
Studies have shown that people tend to be complacent when it comes to threats
perceived as distant and relatively
such as climate change. That’s part of the reason the solar industry may want to
focus more on the financial
rather than the environmental benefits, especially among demographics that tend
to lean more conservative. Most consumers are interested in taking action to
safeguard their financial security.
With regard to the environmental impacts of solar
many cities and solar companies are addressing the land-use conundrum by
covering some of the nation’s 2 billion parking
with solar panels, which would provide shade and sustainable
to nearby areas while sparing natural habitats.
And it’s important for the public to understand the inherent environmental
benefits of solar
over that generated by burning fossil fuels. Through the first half of 2023, the
current, cumulative, installed solar-energy capacity has already offset over 169
million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Solar Energy
The good news is, it appears to be getting easier to convince the public that
solar is the best solution for numerous reasons, regardless of politics and
other previously perceived barriers.
Texas, a highly conservative part of the country, is catapulting itself into
the solar-energy revolution: The Lone Star State is expected to install more
utility-scale solar capacity in
than any other of the forty-nine states, according to the US Energy
On a global scale, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
estimates that 90 percent of the world's
may come from renewable sources by 2050. Worldwide, the solar industry is
expected to grow from $94.6 billion in 2022 to over $300 billion by 2032.
That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3 percent.
But this doesn’t mean the sector should be complacent. Getting the right message
out is imperative if we want to live on a planet where clean energy is the norm.
“There is no replacement for good storytelling for people at all levels to
connect with all the positive impacts that renewable energy and climate action
can have in the world, but also for their daily lives,” said Roger
Molins, Corporate Sustainability and
Nationally Determined Contributions Consultant at IRENA. “From there, it’s
easier to underpin the financial benefits (such as cost savings or returns on
investment), improved health conditions (air quality), equity (for local
communities and particularly low-income ones) and energy security (versus
depending on scarce or volatile resources). A case can also be made in terms of
the economy and a boost in green
Considering all of the above, solar energy should be quite an easy sell for the
world’s citizens — but as with any issue related to sustainability, which
we must be sure to understand each demographic and what is most important to
Published Nov 10, 2023 10am EST / 7am PST / 3pm GMT / 4pm CET
Roberto Guerra is a bilingual writer, editor, entrepreneur, corporate engagement and communications specialist, and US Air Force veteran with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Universidad de la Sabana (Bogota, Colombia) and an International Master in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility from EOI Business School (Madrid, Spain). Born in New York and raised in Florida, Roberto is former managing director for the Spanish-language version of vegan business magazine "vegconomist" and is also author of three novels. He has lived, worked and studied on four different continents.