Joe O -- The Sun Is Shining So Consider Solar

Portraits of Joe Occhiogrosso,   4/29/15 photo by Joe Epstein/
With spring officially here—and summer around the corner—it’s the time to start thinking about solar. The fact is that solar is a booming market. Just consider the following statistics aggregated by the Solar Energy Industries Association last year:

– The U.S. solar industry reached a record-breaking high in 2013, with more than 440,000 solar electric systems operating in the U.S.

– These operations total more than 12,000 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) and 918 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP), representing explosive growth.

– PV installations were on the rise, increasing 41 percent during 2012 to reach 4,751 MW in 2013.

So with the sun shining and the solar industry growing, there has never been a better time to lead with the solar part of our Viridian business. Keep in mind that the process of getting a solar customer takes longer. In fact, it can take three to four months to finalize the proposal as you have to get a permit and set an installation timetable. So, get ahead of the process and start having those conversations today—especially with air conditioning bills on their way—so that, by next summer, your customers are prepared.

Solar represents an enormous opportunity for us at Viridian. After all, in 2015, solar will still make up only 0.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation. Meanwhile, countries like Germany have renewable energy sources representing 75 percent of the country’s overall electricity demand. Solar energy makes up a significant portion of Germany’s power demand. Think of how amazing it would be if we could get to 5 percent in the next year. Think of how much positive affect we can generate by people who feel this movement is inevitable.

To assess the potential for this market, just consider the fact that, for every moment the sun is shining, most of that energy is being wasted the moment it hits the floor. While a beautiful day is made beautiful by the sun, it also exposes how much solar power goes to waste.

If you want to get a feel for where this industry is heading, go back to the 1920s and 1930s for a moment when smoking was in—cool and accessible. Even in the ’60s and ’70s, you would watch “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and everyone was smoking. Picture Joe DiMaggio and all those athletes who used to star in cigarette commercials! It’s amazing when you think about this today as people could not see what it is now so self evident.

Today, we have a new bad habit. We are burning coal and oil and relying on fossil fuels despite the fact that natural gas is cleaner. But make no mistake about it, the country will start to wake up like it did in the ’80s when suddenly smoking commercials were recalled. It will become crystal clear just how dangerous fossil fuels are and how solar is a clear path for our country’s future. Now is the time to energize the whole country and get ahead of the movement.

If you are just beginning to explore the solar end of your business, you are not alone. I myself wasn’t focusing on it in the beginning. After all, everyone has an electric meter within their home but not everyone has a roof.

So continue to soak up the sun and celebrate this gorgeous weather. But don’t forget to think solar, too.