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Author: derek the solarboi

I've worked in solar for 2014, working everything from install, service, and management. I have a passion for sharing how things work and what people can expect from their systems as they age and need service.

Solar Adoption in Rural America

From Mike De Socio at CNET:

“We were able to find that adoption of these technologies is highly related to income,” Mayfield said. “We also find that education is also a main factor of these technologies.” In other words, rural Americans with higher incomes and more education are more likely to put solar panels on their roof or buy a heat pump.

I mean, yep.

And the big “solution” many companies turn to for low-income and low-education folks, is leasing. I’ve met maybe a handful of people who were a big fan of their lease, but they were markedly at the beginning of the craze in the early 2010s when the deals were much better. However, most leaseholders I’ve encountered, especially in recent times, have become cynical about solar, mainly due to poor service.

Solar leasing companies historically have very few service people available, and it often takes months of hassle to get people to come out. The usual scenario involves residents reaching out to the leasing company for months without a response or with dismissive gestures. As a last resort, the resident stops paying the monthly bill, finally grabbing the attention of the company. However, instead of getting someone to fix the system, the company contacts someone like me to disable the system outright until payment continues.

Every single one of those kinds of jobs I’ve seen are on low-income housing. When these leasing companies mess up, it reinforces the belief that solar is a scam. Paired with fast-talking salesmen with no morals, leasing is the fastest way to introduce solar to low-income Americans — and a recipe for alienation.

Best way to educate, as with anything you want to incentivize, is to increase the accessibility of ownership.

Electric Dramatic

Because I’m incapable of not starting side projects, welcome to Electric Dramatic, where we get you up to date, baby!

This is actually born out of a previous side project called RVTheory, where I used electrician beef with some RV technicians to parody the “comment electrician”, who always knows so much in their head but probably have never been called on their bullshit. RVTheory was ultimately unsustainable and too niche, but it did feel like a stepping stone to something else, I just couldn’t figure it out. And also I probably got distracted with something more important.

However, step in Cy Porter, a home inspector on all the social media platforms. Cy Porter is fairly well respected, but showed his colors recently as an attention hog in his videos. The whole saga is pretty thick, and I realized what people need is not a parody by someone who can’t keep up with it, but an explainer site for the occasional drama that happens in the electrical social media community. And so, Electric Dramatic was born with its first post: Bye, Cy.

Solar, but in space!!!

From Corey S. Powell at WSJ:

In this age of wireless everything, engineers are trying to perform the ultimate act of cord-cutting: generating abundant solar electricity in space and beaming it to the ground, no power cables required.

The idea and how it works is basically putting a huge solar array in space, and beaming it the power via microwave like a huge wireless charger, which is genuinely cool. But it’s not like we’d suddenly be getting rid of large power farms on earth:

Bringing space-based solar power to the masses will require not just a lot of satellites but also a lot of antenna farms on the ground. Two gigawatts of beamed power would require about 25 square miles of receiver, according to a Solaris-funded report by the research firm Roland Berger.

Doing some googling, 2 GW of solar farm would likely also require close to 25 square miles of land use, but you’d get less interruption due to weather since microwaves don’t give a fuck about clouds. And I’m sure a lot of this tech will continue to miniaturize over time.

Regardless, this kind of tech development excites me, even though it’s still in early stages.

Republicans are trying to screw the solar industry to spite Democrats again

From PV Magazine USA:

The “Build it in America Act” contains cuts to the two cornerstone tax credits. The Act also makes cuts to the federal electric vehicle tax credit, both for new and used EVs.

This is the second attempt by a coalition of House members to overturn the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit, two policies that are at the core of the United States push toward low cost, carbon-free electricity. The first attempt, which smuggled IRA cuts into the debt ceiling raise bill, was thwarted in negotiations that led to expedited environmental reviews for energy projects of all types.

Why. Just stop it. Get some help.