This is an excerpt from Solar Server's report "Solar industry on track to progressive growth: A review on Intersolar North America 2010".
This was a 7 page report on the state of the solar industry with 6 ¾ pages dedicated solely to PV. As a manufacturer and distributor of solar thermal products it is both disappointing and telling at the same time. It is apparent that solar thermal is definitely the "red headed step child" of the solar industry. This is baffling on so many levels. It also tells me that the solar thermal industry must pull their heads out of the sand and do something about it. I myself am on my way to becoming a crusty, cranky old plumber but this is the 21st Century and it's time to use the technology of the day to spread the word. We must be diligent in this.
- PV is dominating Twitter. I am constantly scanning Twitter for quality solar thermal articles and promotions and every day I am disappointed in what I find. If you are an installer, distributor or manufacturer you must use this tool. It is the best way to get your message to a mass amount of people in a short amount of time. It's not all doom and gloom there are advocates like Tor Valenza (@SolarFred) Issac Heating and Air Conditioning out of New York (@IssacHeating) who are diligently promoting solar thermal but we need more.
- Blogs are a great way to educate the public and other industry folks as to what is happening in your area and what you are doing to promote your business and technologies. The more we share ideas and the more we talk about it the more we will be heard.
- Education! Education! Education! This cannot be stressed enough. We recently called 100 local HVAC and plumbing companies in New Mexico to discuss the possibilities of providing them with a series of workshops on solar hot water and solar space heating. The response we got was overwhelming. They were all eager to learn but didn't know where to start. Can you imagine what 100 more installers in one state could do for an industry? The trades are eager they just need a place to learn. Those of us who know should be teaching. We are too young of an industry to worry about market share right now. We need solidarity more than anything.
- Politics is an area that the thermal industry could provide more focus. When you hear a politician today speak about renewable energy what do you hear them mention? It is, in almost every case, PV and wind. We need to educate our politicians as to the benefits of a solar thermal system so that the next time they give a speech they mention solar hot water or solar heating. Call your local representative and ask for a meeting. You would be surprised at how open they are to listen. In fact I would like to thank State Senator Steve Fischmann from Las Cruces, NM for sitting and having dinner with me and my father to discuss solar heating. It was an eye opening experience for both parties and we now have an advocate in the state senate. Getting to know your local representatives can also help out
If you read the paragraph from the report it clearly states the major benefits of choosing solar thermal technology yet what is actually being done about it. It costs on average 30% of your utility bill to pay for heating your water. If you can save 70-90% of that 30% for as little as a ¼ of what PV system costs wouldn't you do that? Of course you would, it's a no brainer. I know there are advocates out there we just need to get to know each other and work together to build this industry to the level it belongs.
If you would like to discuss any of the topics mentioned above I would be more than happy to discuss them. You can reach me at the AAA Solar Supply's office at 1(800)243-0311 or email me at Stephen@aaasolar.co. I look forward to hearing from you and let's go sell some thermal!