Americans’ desire for self-sufficiency will elevate solar to the mainstream

Americans’ desire for self-sufficiency will elevate solar to the mainstream

So far, we’ve established two things: that solar is getting more affordable and that consumers are increasingly frustrated that their energy conservation efforts aren’t reducing their bills – and may start to look elsewhere for ways to save money and reduce their environmental impact.

Here’s the last reason why solar’s about to reach the tipping point.

Reason Three: Americans are looking for ways to be more self-sufficient and energy independent.

The economic meltdown has shifted American values from the indulgent to the pragmatic, and more and more people are seeking solutions that allow them to be more self-sufficient. This extends way beyond making their own lunch instead of eating out. In our upcoming Energy pulse report, we found that 20% of Americans are concerned about relying on other countries for our energy – the second most important reason to conserve energy. It’s that independent spirit that means it won’t take much longer for Americans to migrate their thinking from “How can we stop relying on other countries for energy?” to “Do I need to rely on my local utility company when I can turn my rooftop into my personal power plant?”

Okay, so now let’s shift gears and look at three things that have to happen for solar to truly go mainstream. Why these three things? Well, it’s what’s happened in Germany – where they have more than 5 gigawatts of solar power installed on the rooftops ranging from government offices to private homes. Where they’ve created more than 50,000 new jobs. Where they’ve created an industry that’s second only to their auto industry.

Thing One: Any homeowner or business must be allowed to generate solar energy.

This may sound like it’s already possible, but it’s not. Local building codes,  homeowner associations and other bureaucratic hurdles need to be removed to allow anyone to install a small system on their rooftop. This will require action on all levels – from federal to state to local neighborhood. It will require a coordinated effort as well as a grassroots effort. Who will lead the charge?

Next post: The other two things that need to happen and a call to action.

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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