With the Netherlands unveiling a stretch of solar road this past month, it gives us a glimpse of how far we have progressed towards paving our world with silicon; but why are we paving the floor with solar panels? This road is much more inefficient than its rooftop counterpart and that isn’t even accounting for its 3 million euro price tag. It is an innovative, but, misguided idea that serves as a representation of our progress as a whole.
As if the road wasn’t rife with stumbling blocks already, it seems the world is dead set on making it even more difficult. When the discussion turns to solar, a large portion of the debate is dedicated towards its economic viability. If you are a frequent visitor to our site (thank you so much and please continue to bless us with your presence), you will have noticed that yesterday Ken also brought up a major roadblock to the continued development of solar in our North American market. With both the US and Canada levying strict and stricter tariffs on Chinese imported panels, we will only see a continued decrease in return on solar system investments. Ken covered both sides of the coin yesterday but he didn’t stray too far from that viewpoint.
It is unfortunate that the focus of attention has shifted towards the economic viability of solar since its boost in popularity at the turn of century. Yes, the benefits of installing solar into a grid-tie system, especially in Canada where the government incentives are less than stellar, is negligible at best. To recoup your costs, it may be well past a decade into your investment before you begin seeing a tangible return on your investment and that is fine. It takes a very selfless (or very rich) person to be able to overlook your returns in the immediate future.
This is even more apparent in the decisions of our ruling bodies. They have, to an extent, supported solar by introducing tax-based incentives. But at the end of the day, their decisions are heavily influenced by the economy. Just yesterday, the European Union issued a press release that stated “the United Kingdom cannot apply, with respect to all housing, a reduced rate of VAT to the supply and installation of energy-saving materials, since that rate is solely to transactions related to social housing”.
Understandable? Definitely, but so are tariffs. It’s not that these decisions don’t make sense. They do. But they are geared towards the economic well-being of their respective countries. That isn’t what solar is about. Let’s be honest, solar’s biggest draw by far isn’t in the amount of jobs the industry will create. It isn’t in the amount of savings the system will give. It is about creating a clean and bright future. It is about making a selfless investment into a future we have no part in. It is about paving the road for future generations to build on.
It is a tall order but that is the solar industry as a whole. The governments and countless business have poured billions into R&D, many without any hope of recouping even a portion of that investment. Solar isn’t an industry born out of desire for profit. It is an industry birthed from a more noble and selfless cause or it wouldn’t have survived otherwise. Shouldn’t our own justifications follow that?