There are over 120,000 people with solar jobs in the US and I am one of them.
I sell solar PV (photovoltaic) to home and business owners in Washington State and the majority of my job is education. The more the public is educated on the facts of solar power the better the solar industry will do.
Can you think of many professions where most people know little about the product and what they think they know is often false? Most people in America have an opinion about solar energy, yet few of them have any experience with it. When it comes to solar the American public is highly opinionated and minimally educated, a combination that too often creates mass confusion. To combat this problem here are 5 myths about solar energy in the US.
- Solar is only for the wealthy: media outlets often suggest that solar is only for rich people. A report just published proves that over 60 percent of the households going solar in the California, Arizona and New Jersey earn below $90,000. If you live in a state that allows leases or purchase-power-agreements (PPAs) then you can go solar without any upfront cost.
- Solar must always be subsidized to make economic sense: opponents will tell you that solar is not good because it is subsidized. The implication here is that coal, natural gas, oil and nuclear power are all not subsidized by the US government. The US government subsidizes all energy sources, sometimes in really complex and discrete ways.
- Solar companies in the US are failing: Listening to the news, especially certain networks, you'd get the impression that solar companies in the US are all failing. While solar manufacturers in the US are having a really hard time competing on the global market, isn’t this true for all US manufacturers of electronic products? Installers of solar are doing really well in the US, and US companies are leading the way. SolarCity is the US solar installer with the highest profile, they went public last year and their business has continued to grow with their stock price.
- Solar won't work because the sun doesn't always shine: The argument oft-heard argument is that since the sun doesn't shine all the time it just won't work as an energy source. There is an issue of storing excess electrical production but this is a solvable problem and strategies like Net Metering are doing the job. The other issue is that we use power when the sun is not shining. That's why we have multiple sources of electricity that complement each other. The electrical grid in the US needs to be updated to fully utilize the benefits of renewable energy, this updated grid is called the "smart grid."
- Unlike sun-drenched Germany, there isn't enough sun in the US for solar to work. Leave it to Fox News to make the the most ridiculous claim ever regarding solar. With perfectly straight faces, their morning "news" crew claimed the reason solar won't work in the US is because we don't get enough sun, unlike Germany, a leader in solar power, due to the ample amount of sunlight that they get. Check out the solar irradiance map of the US and Germany in the following video clearly showing how much more sunlight falls in the US on average (except for Alaska) than in Germany.
Image credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie, courtesy flickr