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#SolarChat, 6/27/2012: Exploring Solar’s Growth and Emerging Trends

solar installation referralsThe June 27, 2012 #SolarChat on Twitter brought new and familiar “shining” faces and bright news as we discussed the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q1 2012 Report with Tom Kimbis (@tomkimbis), VP of strategy and external affairs and general counsel for SEIA, and Nicholas Rinaldi (@GTMresearch), a research marketing manager at GTM Research, a Greentech Media company, along with solar manufacturers, installers advocates and other industry experts.

EcoOutfitters’ co-founder Raina Russo (@EcoOutfitters) and social media specialist Kendra Hubbard led the discussion, which explored the positive impact of the solar industry on the U.S. economy and revealed ways the U.S. solar market could continue to expand and provide the best service to solar consumers. See the recap here.

Solar Success Stories

The first question asked participants to share their greatest solar achievements. Some of the highlights show the growth of solar, beyond the statistics in the Solar Market Overview:

  • @allenergysolar tweeted: In MN All Energy Solar is on pace to do more than 4 times the amount of installed capacity this year than last year!
  • @allenergysolar added: Finally getting some great financing options in #MN too! A 0 down lease model for businesses just in the last couple months!
  • @Sunrun tweeted: Sunrun just hit 100 MW of installed residential PV!!
  • @TomKimbis summarized: we are seeing solar grow across every market segment across the US- residential, commercial, and utility. That’s hot.

Solar Creates Jobs
The next question explored the impact of solar jobs on the U.S. economy, bringing up important points beyond the figures released in the SEIA report. For instance, solar energy is lowering utility costs for schools, making it possible to keep more teachers on the payroll and maintain high quality education without increasing school budgets past the point of affordability for most families.

@AllEnergySolar tweeted: Not only our jobs, but solar is saving teachers jobs too. Schools are able to reduce utility costs and retain teachers! The participant then shared a link to an interesting article on the topic.

Solar Challenges
The next question explored some of the challenges the solar industry faces, with insight coming from many #SolarChat regulars and a few newcomers:

@SEIA: Can be a challenge to get industry + advocates to speak with one voice. Need to send one message to lawmakers + the public.

@CarlSiegrist: The global economy hurts all industry – solar is not an exception to this. (Yet, as @EcoOutfitters added, solar continues to grow more than many other industries.)

@MercurySolar: Understanding that decreasing prices are not always a good thing because companies cut corners.

@tomkimbis: Solar attacked as a partisan issue instead of supported as a reliable, domestic energy source that works for all.

@SolarSarahDara: Utility companies. Delay for rebates/incentives. Let’s educate on the importance of bringing renewable energy as a win-win for everyone.

These five tweets represent diverse challenges, but they showcase a few important facts:

  • The solar industry faces many challenges at all levels.
  • Solar needs the support of not just industry members, but consumers who’ve already gone solar, to spread the word and support legislation.
  • The industry is well aware of the challenges ahead and, by having conversations such as these through venues like #SolarChat and at trade shows, are facing these challenges head-on to continue to do what’s right for consumers, for the economy, and for our planet.

Solar Trends
Question four discussed trends in solar. Many participants observed that solar is growing, and not just in California. PPA and leasing programs are making solar more affordable for everyone, and small community solar models might be the next phase in solar’s growth.

The bottom line? The time is right to adopt solar energy. Members of the industry are working hard, and working together, to make it easier than ever for consumers to “go solar.” You can start saving today, and play a part in one of America’s fastest growing industries. It’s good for the economy, good for the environment, and especially good for your wallet.

Post Written by
A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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