Harnessing Solar Energy Outside the Sun Belt
If we try to observe which states are going solar we will find an interesting bend. Many states in U.S.A. are not the sunniest one but still they are opting for solar energy. It’s natural for sunny California to go for solar energy. South Florida is a focus of solar activity because it enjoys a balmy weather and a progressive bend of mind. If we study the energy maps of parts of the Phoenix we will find that they are also opting for the solar energy. If we care to look into the demographics we will find that people want clean and green energy like solar energy while living in shady area. Why? The answer lies in the economic status. They have money to spend and possess progressive thinking.
You don’t have to live in the Sun Belt to take advantage of solar panels. When people decide to go solar they are taking a huge expensive step forward and a complicated one too. But solar panel leasing plans are making it easier for people to utilize the bountiful energy of the sun. Neighbourhood groups are availing the facility of group discounts to utilize solar energy.
What factors are responsible for consumer going solar?
The main factors are availability of sun, social and political values, disposable income and incentives provided by state and local authorities. One can find out the incentives and rebates by visiting the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE). We can get a peek into consumer behaviour by looking at this mashup map by Cooler Planet. Cooler Planet is a Seattle based company floated by the environmentalists. These environmentalists are also comfortable with the software and online marketing. They say, “Over time, we aim to provide you all the tools and resources you need to reduce the carbon footprint of your home, your business, and your life.” Cooler Planet’s services are completely free of charge. Cooler Planet has received around 30,000 enquiries over the last few years. They mapped these enquiries on a live data, interactive heat map.
If we analyze their maps some interesting facts will emerge. Disposable income combined with progressive values ignites interest in solar power in Seattle and Boston, though they don’t get ample sunlight. New Jersey, California and Colorado are armed with incentive systems and these states rise to the occasion. There are some regions that may throw a surprise at observers, for instance, areas with high-density population doesn’t mean more interest in solar power.
This state boasts of a concentration of progressive, tech-savvy and green leaning population in the Seattle area and Bellingham. But solar power is still a favorite of rural folks and, to a lesser extent, the eastern part of the state, where incomes are much lower. Further, Washington is known as the cloudiest state, both in people’s perception and according to the data. In fact, the first 14 least sunny cities in the nation are all in Washington.
The Twin Cities are also progressive and relatively prosperous. It is obvious that people there would be interested in solar power. The fact is still holds that Minnesota is quite cloudy and has notoriously rough weather. Interest in solar energy is still quite strong through much of the state’s farm country.
Chicago is windy and densely populated. But due to the efforts of Mayor Richard Daley the city is going clean and green and adopting solar power.
The Rust Belt in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana
They are not known for alternative energy enthusiasts. But it is surprising that there’s enough awareness and interest in solar power in Indiana, particularly in the Rust Belt north, where the weather is also often dreary. Solar power is also gaining a stronghold in Ohio and lower Michigan. These two states are heavily represented on the list of least sunny. They are also experiencing the worst effects of the global recession, with soaring unemployment and grim real estate prospects. But they are defying statistics and going solar.
Rural Kentucky, Tennessee, the western Carolinas and northern Georgia are not favourites of bi-coastal environmentalists and trend watchers. Still this section shows pretty solid interest in renewable energy, even in areas that are not thickly populated.
Upstate New York
We expect that Massachusetts will show due regard to the solar power. Because of its deep blue leanings, sound economy and major state incentives. But neighbouring upstate New York is opting for solar power irrespective of its cloudy and cold weather and current economic decline.