Do you remember the point when CDs took over and replaced cassette tapes? Or the point when cell phones took over and basically replaced landlines? You probably can’t remember a specific point at which those things happened, but you lived through these technology “revolutions” and can probably remember a few memorable points along the way.
The pattern is normally the same: you starting hearing about this new tech and its “revolutionary” benefits. It sounds a bit futuristic and perhaps even unlikely. It’s hard to believe the current tech will be replaced anytime soon. However, within a few years, poof, the switch has occurred.
“Most people aren’t really going to switch to cell phones,” you might have initially thought. “They might replace landlines for some uses. Some people might switch to cell phones. But landlines will dominate as long as I’m alive.”
But then, at some point, everyone seemed to just be using cell phones, including you.
“CDs — they’re cool, but tapes will be around for ages. CDs are too expensive, and everyone already has tape players.”
But then, at some point, you switched to buying CDs, and eventually your cassette tapes got dumped, left behind, or left in boxes in the back of the closet. (And many of you have now probably dropped CDs as well.)
The pattern is always the same. As the tech comes onto the commercial scene, it’s a bit expensive and only super-enthusiastic early adopters buy the tech. (In the case of solar, we can say this was about 30 to about 3 years ago… depending on how early the early adopter jumped in, and to which country we’re referring.)
Then, due to technological improvements, improved government policies, and the slow ramping up of mass production and economies of scale, the technology “all of a sudden” became more practical, more affordable, and more desirable. (In the case of solar, this started happening a handful of years ago in a few places, and the process sped up a lot within the past 3 years or so.)
Today, it makes more sense for a ton homeowners to go solar than it does to leave their roofs empty and underutilized. The financial savings from switching to solar, in states across the U.S., are huge — in many cases beating some of the best financial investments around.
But something worth noting is that there’s a short lag between when a new technology makes a lot more sense than the alternative and when the majority of people start to switch. There’s an awareness gap that largely causes this. I think this is the phase we’re at with solar. Even though it makes sense for a ton more people to go solar than are actually going solar, they simply aren’t aware that this is the case. As more and more people become aware, growth will ramp up.
Though, even today, we can see that solar growth is on a steep upward curve. About ⅔ of the solar PV installed around the world was installed within the last 2.5 years.
Furthermore, within the next 2.5 years, global solar capacity is projected to nearly double. This is largely just from people becoming more aware of solar’s benefits, and also a bit from solar becoming even more competitive.
The same trend is occurring in the U.S.:
As more solar power is installed, costs come down. This is shown time and time again with new technologies. There are economic models related to this that have been proven to fit with solar PV just as they did with computers and other technologies. So, as solar growth heats up, solar makes more sense for more and more people. This is one key reason why the steep-S-shaped adoption curve fits for new technologies over and over again.
The other key reason, of course, is that as more people switch to the new technology, their friends and neighbors and families are much more prone to switch. Think about it — you probably had a friend or family member who switched to CDs and cell phones before you did. They helped to open up your mind to making the switch yourself. They had a huge impact on your eventual decision to switch. The same has been show to be true with home solar power systems. People are much more likely to switch to solar once someone on their street has switched. As more and more streets get solar, and as more and more people on those streets get solar, get ready for the masses to make the switch.
The fact of the matter is, solar is a smart financial decision today for many or probably even most of you. The biggest hurdles to a solar rooftop revolution are simply psychological or awareness hurdles. Those will be overcome. There’s no stopping it. Are you ready to join the solar rooftop revolution? Do you want to be a leader on your street, in your family, amongst your friends and neighbors; helping others to become more aware and make the switch as you yourself benefit financially from going from grid electricity to homemade, solar electricity?