If utility companies start installing rooftop solar panels, does it make them clever or greedy?
The answer is probably a bit of both. If they would have had any vision or foresight, utility companies would have started their own distributed generation and rooftop solar enterprises years ago when their emerging competition did. Maybe 2010 or 2011 would have been good years to jump on the bandwagon.
But just as Blockbuster (remember the brick and mortar video rental stores?) waited until Netflix stomped on its market share to start its own mail-in rental service, utility companies are showing up a bit late to the party.
In theory, it’s a great idea for utilities to offer rooftop solar to their customers. Their deep pockets and customer access could lead to tremendous gains for solar adoption.
Now that any ordinary person with $1,000 can invest in SolarCity’s solar bonds, the already-strong company could have access to nearly unlimited capital for continued growth and expansion.
SolarCity launched a new loan program this week that didn’t make big headlines, but that could be big news for the solar industry.
SolarCity and its counterparts Sungevity, Sunrun and Vivint Solar helped to make rooftop solar mainstream by developing the leasing model. Instead of ponying up cash for a rooftop solar installation or begging the bank to come up with a viable loan package, homeowners could have solar panels installed on their homes and pay the solar installer instead of the utility company for power.
Solar panels on the roof of your house – of course. Solar panels on the roof of your car – makes sense, especially if your car is electric. Solar panels on the wings of your plane? That’s a little more futuristic. But it’s happening.
The Solar Impulse 2, debuted in April, seats two, flies about 60 miles per hour and needs only stop to give the pilot a break. If not for its passengers, the solar-powered plane could theoretically fly forever without ever stopping.