What happens to the trendy and the cool who lay out serious cash for solar photovoltaic panels? Like drivers of the Toyota Prius, they become energy geeks, according to installers for the German solar outfit, Conergy.
Some Prius owners aim for a distinguishing statement by driving a car that is, by distinctive and unmistakable design, trendy and cool. Beyond the ecological feel-goodness and the desire to save some bucks on petrol, driving a Prius is about making a statement. But once behind the wheel, I have heard, the Prius driver becomes fixated on fuel-efficient driving techniques. Saving energy at the pedal becomes a game, a challenge.
At the ASES Solar2006 conference in Denver, I heard a variation on the Prius story. Solar electricity is not the most economical green energy technology, nor is it the one with the best near-term mass-market adoption promise (look instead to the likes of biomass, solar thermal and geothermal). It does, however, instill in some people an ecological feel-goodness to produce electricity from the sun, and, as a PV installer from California commented – to much nodding from the crowd – it does offer the PV buyer an opportunity to retaliate against the electric utility.
Yet, for the trendy and the cool, PV is where it’s at. These PV buyers are not looking to save kWhs or to stick it to the utility; energy efficiency is of little concern. They are in it for the cool factor. But once the panels are in place and the meter starts running on an on-grid PV system, these PV owners become fixated on kWh savings. It’s only after the PV owner sees the panels generate power that the PV owner begins down the road of energy efficiency, replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs, insulating the attic and taking other efficiency and conservation measures to get the most out of those panels. As with the Prius driver, saving energy becomes a game, a challenge.
I have been trained that energy efficiency is the first step on the road to clean and green. Once a building has been analyzed with blow-door tests and infrared scans of hot and cold spots and appropriate measures to tighten things up have been accomplished, then, and only then, do we recommend PV. For “the trendy and the cool, on-grid” customer segment, the energy efficiency-first approach is entirely backwards. For marketers, that’s a valuable nugget to toss in the strategy bag.
Other going on this week
There were two electric cars parked on the main streets of Telluride, Colorado early this week. The GEM is made by Global Electric Motorcars, LLC a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler. The Ĭt car (It™ is Electric) is a Canadian import. Both cars charge off standard 240V.
Go see “Who Killed the Electric Car” and gird yourself for the advertisements that General Motors created to “sell” the EV1 electric car. Creepy. Once you’ve seen the movie, pray for the GEM and the Ĭt car. I’ll be looking for marketing for these two babies – but will likely have to move to another state or country to catch it first hand.