Way back in the mists of time, it was Thomas Edison who made the bold statement that we would need to harness the power of the sun if we were to successfully power the world. After a brief hiatus when we fell more in love with fossil fuels than was generally thought good for us, many people are coming back to the notion that the sun could well hold the key for our future.
Head back just twenty years and you would come across solar panels on the roof of a house every so often. There was no Feed in Tariff back in those days and installations were prohibitively expensive for most of us. A combination of the threat of global warming and some more useful legislation that makes it easier and less financially painful to install means that many of us are starting consider the possibility of having our own solar panels installed.
The detractors of renewable energy will often say that we are not fond of the idea of ugly looking constructions and expensive technology, not to mention that it’s not as effective as those green people would have us believe.
Neither is it as clean as people make out.
Most of these objections have largely been debunked in recent times. Scientists and researchers are working hard to produce cheaper and more carbon friendly solar cells and the government backs it as one of the more viable and the cheapest energy solutions for the future.
Actually, as a nation, we are pretty well informed about the pros and cons of renewable energy such as solar PV. The truth is it’s often governments and politicians that stand in the way of further development of green technologies, despite what growing public opinion says. According to the Solar Trade Association, over 150 businesses recently got together to urge Prime Minister David Cameron to back the industry which supports some 16,000 jobs in the UK alone.
They can often have a detrimental effect on any cause but a good celebrity endorsement here or there makes us feel better about our low carbon life choices. Whilst it can often be seen as the worst kind of opportunism, A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio have been working on the green agenda for at least the last ten years, without too much of a nod towards self-promotion. Whether it changes our view point on the need for radical action and the uptake of green agendas or has no effect whatsoever, keeping the whole thing in the public eye is important.
And of course we love a bargain. The idea of poking the large energy companies in the eye and becoming more independent also makes technologies like solar panels far more appealing. If prices are going to continue to shoot up (despite this month’s temporary reduction in the cost of gas and electricity) then we all want to work towards a little more financial and fuel security. With the arrival of Feed in Tariffs, the world fell in love with solar just a little bit more.
Word of mouth
The one thing that you can’t really ignore is the age old power of word of mouth. If people in your street have a solar panel installed then you are bound to check it out, especially if you are habitually struggling with your energy bills and want a long term, cheaper alternative. It’s something that double glazing installers have long known. Do a good job in a street and you’ll oft times get more business from a trusted neighbour’s recommendation.
Whatever you say about the current government’s climate change agenda, we would be nowhere if there weren’t incentives such as The Green Deal, Feed in Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentive to make it worthwhile in changing our old, inefficient devices for newer, more carbon friendly ones.
More installers and more information
There was a time when, if you were thinking of getting solar panels installed, your sources of information were limited, normally dependent on the knowledge of the guy who was setting it up. Nowadays, people can go online and search for the pros and cons of any renewable technology and make themselves an ‘expert’ in a short period of time. That means we are less like to fall prey to unscrupulous installers who are out to make a quick profit rather than supply a system that does the job we want it to do.
The other thing to consider in the rising popularity of solar panels is that there are now governing institutions and certification bodies such as the MCS. Combine that with the growing number of companies offer the service and that means prices come down through greater competition. That’s why you begin to see the real change in the solar panel industry over the last ten years or so and why we are more likely to go for it than at any other time.
Find out more about solar panels here.