GOOD

New Study Finds Solar Panels Are "Contagious"

A new study finds that you're more likely to install solar panels if other people in your zip code have them.


Are you more likely to install solar panels if your neighbor has them? A new study (PDF) out of Stanford says that you are. More specifically, it finds that for every 1 percent increase in the number of installations in a particular zip code, the time until the next adoption of solar decreases by 1 percent. Or, as Vote Solar's Adam Browning put it: Solar is contagious!

So just how quickly can solar power spread as this snowball effect gets rolling? John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project projects the trends forward:


If you start with a neighborhood with 25 solar installations, where it was 100 days between the 24th and 25th installation, this peer pressure effect will reduce the time between installations to just 10 days by the 250th [photovoltaic] project.

\n

Here's what the effect looks like:

Of course, this process can take a pretty long time to actually unfold. In the example above, in a hypothetical zip code starting with one solar installation, it takes 15 years for the gap between installations to come down to 10 days.

What neither Browning or Farrell got into was what, exactly, caused solar power's contagiousness. Is it peer pressure? Infrastructure and training? Marketing density?

I dug into the study a bit, and it turns out it's a little bit of everything. One predictable factor is social caché. Call it Keeping up with the Joneses. Homeowners see others putting up solar panels, and they want to projecting the same "green image." Another is information transfer. It gets easier to find out about solar panels if there are people in your zip code who have them. Neighbors talk to neighbors, explaining the benefits of rooftop solar, and demystifying the installation process. Likewise, once local contractors are familiar and comfortable with the systems, they can serve more customers, and talk to other contractors. Finally, companies like SolarCity are taking a hyperlocal approach to marketing and sales. It benefits the company to have a lot of projects in one area, so they'll target a city or town, blast through, and move on.

All of this evidence points to the fact that the best possible way you can get more people to adopt solar energy is to put panels on your own home first.

Photo (cc) by Dave Dugdale on Flickr

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health