Solar, Wind and Geothermal Adoption: Are Good Intentions Getting in the Way?

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Convincing environmentalists or eco activists to adopt clean energy is on par with selling ice water in the desert. It isn’t a hard sell. They put a high value on reducing greenhouse gases and an extremely large percentage are willing to do whatever it takes to install solar panels, wind power or geothermal systems at their homes or businesses. They’ll do it simply because they believe that it’s “the right thing to do.” In fact, most of them have already done it. But as we work to expand the pool of solar, wind and geothermal energy users, is “doing the right thing” the only acceptable motivation?

Solar Systems Aren’t Just For Environmentalists

For a large segment of the population, their environmental concerns are tempered with other additional concerns such as cost, reliability and performance. For some others, the environment isn’t even part of the equation. They’re focused only on the bottom line. Trying to sell them on the idea is like trying to sell ice to Eskimos. No matter how hard you try to convince them that it’s “the right thing to do,” they’re not buying it.

If the ultimate goal is to increase the adoption of solar and wind technologies, it’s also going to be necessary to convince the “non-environmental population” to buy into the idea of installing these systems at their properties. Perhaps we as clean energy advocates need to tweak our approach to these audiences to include or maybe even focus on the economics of these systems? This approach may be difficult for environmentalists, who continue to be clean energy’s greatest champions, to swallow. But, if the environmental benefits these systems deliver are the same regardless of homeowners’ motivations for installing them, shouldn’t we still consider it a victory?

One final cliché comes to mind: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If the financial argument in favor of clean energy is what resonates with these groups and motivates them to install a solar power system, maybe our efforts are better spent making that argument than trying to sell them strictly on the environmental benefits.

What are your thoughts?

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