There has been a great deal of progress with regards to solar energy in the United States. Thomas Leyden is a 25 year industry veteran and Senior Director of Distributed Electricity and Storage at EDF Renewable Energy. He attended an Intersolar Conference in San Francisco, CA early in 2017.  During this event, Leyden discussed new solar and storage business models, as well as highlighted significant milestones. For instance, he discussed the United States currently having 44.7 gigawatts of operating solar systems; he discussed that in 2016, solar became the top source of new electricity; and he talked about how solar energy generation beat nuclear in terms of production in April of 2017. The solar news covered by this industry veteran is quite fascinating. Following up-to-the-minute solar news reveals that renewable energy is heading in a mainstream direction, and we can help it to happen faster – going solar with a sense of urgency will mean a very positive impact for our planet.  

While Thomas Leyden highlighted that the United States has come a long way at the Intersolar Conference, it was made clear that there is still a long way to go in regards to solar energy. Costa Rica is a country which has made a great deal of progress, similar to Norway. The United States is getting there, with many cities and companies either completely renewable or getting to that point within the next few years. Some of the areas and companies noted for their progress towards solar include Georgetown, TX, Stanford, Ithaca, NY, American University, Whole Foods and Google. Going solar is a large part of getting to a point of being 100 percent renewable.  

Leyden wrote via Greentech Media, “As a 25+ year veteran of the solar industry, I often get asked for my thoughts on what can be done to establish solar as a more thriving, mainstream industry. First and foremost, we need to keep a laser-like focus on installing new solar (and now solar and storage) projects. At the same time, we need to view ourselves as visionaries, people who don’t just wait for the system to adjust but who take active steps to push solar to the tipping point.” 

How to Turn Solar Mainstream  

Leyden discussed five methods that individuals and companies alike can utilize to turn solar mainstream: Stay up to date on all the latest! 

  1. Bring young individuals in to the solar industry who are motivated to succeed. Placing talent into solar will prove effective for the United States, and the planet. Connect with students by volunteering on campus – make them aware of the benefits of solar energy. Become a mentor on campus. Promote solar to students! 
  2. Get more women interested in solar. There is a gender imbalance when it comes to the industry workforce – as per Solar Jobs Census, 2016 saw more than 260,000 employees in the solar industry, but only 28 percent were women. Lacking enough women means lacking potential talent with regards to solar.  
  3. Talk about policy with local, state and federal legislatures. Solar technologies, through policy, are able to achieve their potential and value. Every individual has the power to make a difference – let’s put some of that power into solar power.  
  4. Volunteer at community events – look for upcoming events at libraries, associations, churches, rotary clubs and more at which it would be possible to endorse solar. Get people inspired about solar energy. Talk about the potential that solar power has to change the planet.  
  5. Finally, show support to political leaders who are pro renewable energy and policies focusing on solar.  

Get Kids Into Solar! 

The ideas which were provided by Thomas Leyden are completely feasible and will certainly help us to go in the direction of solar, which seems to be what we are already doing. It is always a wise idea to start with youth when it comes to developing an interest in solar – according to Renewable Energy World, a network for news, companies and information with regards to renewable energy, it isn’t difficult to get kids interested in solar and renewable energy.  

Some of the tips provided include: finding online resources that teach children about energy; conducting experiments because obviously, children appreciate hands-on experiences; creating competitions because children get motivated when they see a potential reward; and being a positive example – for an adult focused on solar, they might want to do things such as turning the lights off when they aren’t in use. Being a good example and role model is important when it comes to making renewable energy mainstream.  

Renewable Energy Means Money 

 Mainstreaming renewable energy is also of interest to working individuals, or those looking for work. Why? According to the Labor Department, renewable energy jobs are the quickest growing sector in the United States. The United States Labor Department’s most recent projections indicate that jobs in the renewable energy sector will grow twice as fast as other occupations – these numbers are staggering, and illustrate that it is time to focus on mainstreaming renewable energy.

There is money to be had in renewable energy, so this makes it even more appealing. On October 24, 2017, biennial employment forecasts released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that over the next 10 years, jobs for wind turbine technicians and solar panel installers are going to grow twice as fast as other occupations. Solar photovoltaic installers will be the number one growing job classification over the course of the next decade. Solar photovoltaic installers should see more than 23,000 jobs by the year 2026. The median salary last year for photovoltaic installers was just under $40,000. With regards to turbine technicians, they would be the second fastest growing job classification. The numbers are remarkable – it is expected that there will be 11,300 jobs by 2026. The median salary for turbine technicians is higher than that of solar photovoltaic installers, coming in at just over $52,000.  

 

Why Renewable Energy Will Become Mainstream 

The facts are clear – renewable energy is becoming mainstream, and it is in our best interest to help keep the focus on going solar. According to Solar Nation, solar is going to become and stay mainstream. Several reasons were cited for this, for example: 

  1. The price to use solar power is decreasing. Solar power used to be 10 times more expensive than it is presently, back in the 1980s. Mass production, though, has caused the costs of solar power to go down. If solar power is less expensive, it will be more desirable!  
  2. Electricity costs continue to go up. For those who have the ability to generate their own electricity, they are going to see cost savings. Over the years, photovoltaic systems have become more appealing because of the cost of cheaper solar panels which save even more in regards to energy.  
  3. Sunlight won’t run out. As long as we have a solar system, we will have a sun. As long as we have a sun, we will always have solar power.   
  4. We will ultimately see a depletion in fossil fuels. Since fossil fuels take years to form – millions, actually – and the rate at which humankind is consuming them is always growing, we eventually will not have the option of fossil fuels. This means that we need to look towards solar power and its benefits.  
  5. Electric vehicles are becoming more popular. Tesla Motors has become a prevalent name that people are familiar with everywhere. The notion of being able to drive a vehicle operated by solar panels is incredible. The more that consumers focus on sustainability, the more that they are going to want impactful conveniences such as electric vehicles.  
  6. We need solar power to fight climate change. Carbon pollution is leading to climate change. The number of severe droughts occurring as well as temperatures are increasing. Solar power can help to fight this.  
  7. Governments and even major companies understand the importance of cutting emissions. President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan years ago. Major companies such as General Motors made a promise to reduce emissions. Clearly, companies and some governments understand how important it is to focus on going solar.  
  8. Finally, people want solar power. Solar power, home batteries and other green energy topics, for instance, electric vehicles, are becoming popular. People are interested in buying solar panels, which means solar power is becoming trendy.  

People are clearly fascinated by the notion of going solar. They just need the push to do so and in some cases, they just need to understand how it is possible. Continue to follow stories in solar news to see how solar power and renewable energy are becoming mainstream, and stay up-to-date on ways that you can help to mainstream renewable energy even faster. In many places, solar is attractive for businesses. Homeowners want to save money when it comes to energy – solar power allows them to do this. Environmentally-conscious individuals know that there are many benefits to going solar. Those who are environmentally-conscious and even those merely interested in politics are reading solar news to stay in the know. Clearly, solar and renewable energy are becoming mainstream in many places – we just need to work together to speed up the process and help to continue to make renewable energy popular and convenient in the United States.  

Sources: 

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/5-ways-100-renewable-energy-dream-mainstream 

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2016/12/how-to-get-kids-interested-in-renewable-energy-in-the-new-year.html 

http://www.solar-nation.org/top-10-reasons-why-solar-will-go-and-remain-mainstream 

https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm#top 

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f34/2017%20US%20Energy%20and%20Jobs%20Report_0.pdf 

Photo: http://www.digitaljournal.com/img/8/4/3/0/8/3/i/3/6/1/p-large/jobs-1.JPG 

Photo Source: Bureau Of Labor Statistics  

 

 

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