Gaurav Naik, Principal, GeoGenix
One of the biggest impediments facing the solar industry over the past year — and historically — is the public’s perception of the cost and effectiveness of solar. The general public falsely thinks solar is much more expensive than it actually is and that it is not an effective technology.
When I got into solar in university back in the early 1990s, the technology was nowhere close to being competitive. It had very selective applications, it was very niche, and had a very specific value proposition. It has taken close to 15 years for technological enhancements to make solar competitive with traditional forms of electricity in markets such as Germany, Portugal and island nations that are using diesel to generate electricity.
As technological improvements continue to take place and as costs continue come down, the technology will only get cheaper and more effective, which will create new markets and new opportunities. Last year alone, the price of solar panels and installations fell 40 percent.
Solar is a real technology when it comes to energy generation. As time goes on, it will become more and more of a compelling business case for different applications, which we are seeing play out worldwide right now. However, the public needs to recognize its true cost and effectiveness to ensure the widespread application of solar. Whether it’s a large public awareness campaign coordinated by solar advocacy groups such as the Solar Energy Industries Association or by individuals in the solar industry — from integrators to manufacturers — the general public needs to know how solar can serve as an affordable, reliable source of clean, renewable power.
Gaurav Naik is a principal at GeoGenix, a residential and commercial solar integrator in the mid-Atlantic region. Naik was formerly involved in the research and development of crystalline silicon solar cells for terrestrial applications as well as thin-film CIGS cells for space applications. He holds a bachelor’s of engineering degree in photovoltaics and a master’s degree in electrical engineering.