Remember when the mobile phone was an almost taboo product that people thought was unnecessary and expensive. Huge clunky things that had to be sold through in home presentations, where a salesman tried his hardest to convince you it was worth it. There are now more mobile phones then there are people on earth, and not having one is almost considered technological blasphemy.
It took seeing one in action for a lot of people to be convinced, and the same is happening in the solar industry right now. We are on the cusp of a technological explosion, and the telltale sign of contagious adoption is being observed by many of largest solar providers in the world.
SolarCity, a leading American solar companies, recently posted to its blog that solar is going viral in cities across the US, meaning it won’t be long before we a similar pattern emerging in Australia. Solar adoption has been on the rise for years, but recently, new studies have shown just how quickly people are making the switch and why.
Perfect Timing for Solar Power
There are a number of reasons as to why the solar sector continues to grow. Today, Solar systems are more like your new smartphone than the brick you might have bought in the 90s. The technology has advanced so quickly, that many are saying solar has adopted Moore's Law (A theory that stipulates that the number of transistors that can fit into a computer chip will double every year).
Combining improved technology with a falling price range and a favourable political climate, it's no surprise that more and more people are looking to install solar. But, why are so many towns seeing an explosive adoption of solar?
Solar Ambassadors Leading the Charge
SolarCity is well known for having Elon Musk, the famed entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla motors, as their majority shareholder. So it's no surprise that SolarCity has demonstrated Silicon Valley style innovation.
Similar to Dropbox, who offers its customers extra cloud storage if they sign up a friend, SolarCity allows its customers to become Solar Ambassadors and rewards them for recommending solar. By rewarding its customers with $200 for every new sign up, SolarCity has seen a massive explosion in the number of referrals they have received.
On average, 1 in 3 SolarCity customers install solar because they were referred by a friend. In fact, SolarCity has mapped the effect of referrals, showing just how rapidly solar is spreading throughout the USA.
However, this phenomenon is not exclusively seen among SolarCity customers, but throughout the industry as whole. Studies have proven that if you install solar power, it will increase the chances of your neighbours also getting a system. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they hypothesis ‘neighbour effect’, makes the idea of solar energy seem more realistic or attainable. They also think it might have something to do with a little healthy competition.
Now that solar has become affordable, effective and financially sensible the question is, when will solar power reach critical mass?
Well unfortunately it may be a while before we see mass adoption of solar, with some analysts expecting that the real benefits of mass manufacturing won’t occur until we reach the 1 TW mark or 1000 GW. Currently, the there is 55GW worldwide, so obviously there is a long way to go.
However, prices are continuing to fall - the price of solar is expected to fall to 5c per KW in 2020 - and the technology continues to improve, so as long as the government continues to support solar in the future, then there is hope for the future renewables. Maybe energy storage will continue to see a rapid drop in prices and help increase the adoption rate of solar even more so.