It’s Solarthon season! What does that mean? As some of you know, that means I’ve signed up to help install solar panels for low-income families with GRID Alternatives. And I’m asking for your help to sponsor me.
Yogi Berra might have been referring to the solar industry when he said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But that never stops people from trying! As we look back at the many predictions about the solar industry for 2012, it’s instructive to see how they stacked up to reality.
From the roof of my condo complex in a sunny part of San Francisco, I can see solar panels on at least a few houses on each surrounding block.
Yet solar for our condo has eluded us. When it comes to solar, condos — with multiple owners and HOA regulations — are a tough nut to crack. I’m determined to get us solar power someday, but the jury is out on when that day will come.
I’m a big fan of bringing solar to the 75% — that is, those of us who can’t get solar on our own rooftops. In the solar equation, with leases putting panels within reach of more Americans, solar is no longer an elite luxury that only the 1% can afford. But for most of us, it’s still out of reach. If you rent your home, have a shaded roof, or live in a multi-unit building, just to name a few obstacles, you may belong to that 75% who still can’t go solar.
More options are emerging for solar for the rest of us — including Mosaic’s new online marketplace, which is making it possible for people to invest in community solar projects and earn solid returns.
This three-part series profiles some other startups that are paving the way to spread solar to all.
It’s clear that sharing can improve our lives, and that we can save or make money by sharing. That plus the significant social and environmental benefits are combining to make sharing a new way of life for many.
A big thanks to over 100 friends and family members who sponsored me for the 2012 San Francisco Bay Area Solarthon! Thanks to your help, I was the top individual fundraiser for the third year in a row and broke my own record at a fab $4,800! Excuse all the exclamation marks, but it’s exciting to me.
People have been talking for quite a while about grid parity for solar power, the point at which solar becomes as affordable as power purchased from the grid, where it may come from sources such as coal. While we waited for grid parity, solar was still becoming attractive: rebates, tax incentives, and leasing options made it possible to start saving money in fewer years, in some cases right away.
As part of my research on getting a solar PV system for my San Francisco condo complex, I thought I’d look around and see what other condos have done. (I’m especially interested in condos that share roof space, which presents extra challenges.) With the whole Internet at my disposal, I expected to encounter the usual information overload. Instead, I found that very few condos have managed to go solar. Continue reading “Condoizing solar, part 4: options for condos”
You may know from my post on hiking that I value the idea of a strategic initiative, taking one action that affects many areas at once. George Lakoff, in Don’t Think of an Elephant, notes that focusing on alternative energy is a powerful strategic initiative, because it affects not just energy and sustainability but a host of other areas, such as jobs, health, the environment, foreign policy, developing countries, and more. This is a major reason I’m drawn to alternative energy; it gives a lot of bang for the buck, and it deals with the most urgent issues facing humanity today. Continue reading “GRID Alternatives Solarthon: a mega-strategic initiative”