A shift in thinking about solar panels

Upon finding out my schoolboy nephew had got his first paid job, I realised that most of his hard-earned money spent on just mobile phone credit. What a shame, no fun stuff, just boring old phone credit. This got me wondering about the rest of us.

A paradigm shift can be as easy as looking up rather than down.

A paradigm shift can be as easy as looking up rather than down.

It would seem that the same situation is occurring with Mr and Mrs average homeowner and their energy bills. The big difference between the gas in your pipes and my nephew’s phone credit is phone credit has never been cheaper and still falling – whereas energy costs are on an exponential climb.

If ever a paradigm shift was needed in the way we all heat and power our homes, it would indeed be now. But history shows, such dramatic change in thinking never happens overnight, nevertheless, the drip, drip, drip of transition, always speeds up to become a deluge eventually.

Optimistically, what has already transpired amongst people not just in the United Kingdom, but worldwide in both nations rich and poor is the realisation that similar to my nephew’s free credit, a more significant percentage of hard-earned income is being set aside for expensive, but necessary energy costs.

Worldwide, household by household, people are taking action to remedy this issue with solar panels. Year on year, solar capacity has been growing steadily and currently stands in the UK at 3.5GW and increasing its share to 17% of the renewable mix. In comparison, Germany has reportedly reached 25% of its overall power generation and still growing.

Grid parity (where the cost is less than or equal to the price of purchasing traditional power from the grid) has reportedly already been reached in Australia.

The race is now on to maximise alternative energy strategies before our hand’s forced by global conflict, terrorism, solar flare blackouts, resource wars, energy sanctions on Russia or any other ‘out of the blue’ supply interruption scenarios.

It was only one hundred and fifty years ago that we were a civilisation driven by horse and cart. That’s just three of my lifetimes ago and the paradigm shift that oil burning brought us, cannot be underestimated.

Despite this paradigm shift in the early century, incredibly, some people wanted to hold back progress. This time was shown to be right with the first automobile infrastructure because most people wanted to stick with the steam trains as the primary long-haul transport.

Even in the US, new technologies such as Sam Colt’s new revolver was shunned by traditionalists at that time. The same occurs with solar panel technology today, but just like a teenager today, a combination of necessity and peer pressure will drive the next paradigm shift now underway.

As families spend more and more on their primary energy requirements rather than the ‘the fun stuff’, the proposition of a long-term solution like solar panels becomes more and more tempting.

investing in your tomorrow, benefiting you today

It’s not only our hormone driven youth who makes financial decisions based on the peer pressure factor. My hot lover, despite having a car with just a couple of minor scuffs, scratches.

In a Martin Lewis money saving type of world, this kind of reasoning would sound like madness, but human beings are social creatures, and the pressure to be not judged by our neighbours, friends and family drives innovation as well as the economy as a whole.

We rationalise our questionable decision-making by convincing ourselves that we are “Investing in the future”, yet our requirement to gratify our need of today is a more powerful instinct.

Apart from education and property, I can’t think of any other purchase in life that benefits the user for such a long time span like solar panels.

It will be this realisation that will truly drive the solar panel industry over the next couple of decades. Nobody will want to be the last house on the street without solar panels.

Over the last decade, it was what I call “the German car on the drive” incentivise that has got people to work hard and innovate. I believe the solar panel industry will flourish via similar social pressures that German car manufacturers enjoy today.

The radical, transformative abilities that have occurred in just my life is bringing us to a new secondary paradigm shift of self-generation of energy. The role of centralised energy production will always have its place, but the sole reliance on it will one day be viewed as madness. I am pleased that solar panels will play a central role in this requirement for change. A new way of thinking about the energy we depend on. Yes, a paradigm shift, as quick as that of the ‘low energy lightbulb’. You never hear people complain about those anymore!

Across the whole of 2013, the amount of electricity generated from alternative energy sources worldwide, including solar panel technology, hydro and biomass, was up by 30%.

The fight against grid parity continues to this day in our political arena, but with a combination of ever-rising energy costs and supply uncertainty that teenager that still resides in us all. We will succumb to new social peer pressures and actively pursuing the pride that installing solar panels comes with – like my nephew’s sense of aspiration for the latest and greatest smartphone.

This view is a trend that will continue to become trendy.

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2014-08-21
Founder of Power My Home.