Sometimes, my dog walks take me to interesting places. This time, it was a very new and pleasing looking housing/ apartment complex in Paso Robles, CA. It caught my eyes because of the huge number of solar panels used to shade the parking areas. I couldn’t believe my eyes since the rest of the town was more..hm..ordinary.
When we spoke to a resident, we were told that the complex was actually subsidized housing for seniors and former farmers. It had all started with the Chet Dotter Senior Apartment Community and was later extended. What amazed me the most was that solar power – in general opinion – is still “too expensive”. And here we had a subsidized housing complex that was so well equipped – with even more houses and solar parking stalls in construction.
How come our subsidized housing back in Canada doesn’t have solar? Why not solve the EV charging issue for condo residents by covering outdoor parking with solar panels? Or better yet, cover school and mall parking lots with solar panels and thus turn them into overnight charging stations for nearby condos? Add Tesla Powerwalls and nobody can be afraid of grid issues!
I like the KISS approach – Keep it Simple, Stupid! Having studied in Germany and England, back in the days…;-)…, I realized that the textbooks in Germany always seemed so complicated, confusing and just plain boring, while the ones in England were a great read, easy to understand and well, almost fun! It always seemed to me that German textbooks had to be complicated, otherwise the author would be seen as “not smart”. Isn’t it a sign of smartness to be able to explain something complicated in an easy to understand and fun way?!
I’d like to apply the KISS concept to the solar power industry. Are we trying to make things more complicated than they need to be? It’s so easy to just concentrate on the “we cannot do it because…” part of the challenge. I’m missing the “can do” attitude here. It shouldn’t be that expensive, it doesn’t have to be. It’s just some extra material to attach the solar panels, why are companies charging so much for that kind of work? That doesn’t make sense. It’s so straightforward, almost anybody could do it. Hubby Rolf did – on our boat. He was told it’s not doable. Ha! He proved everybody wrong (full solar-on-boat story to follow at a later point).
SolarCity in the US is doing a great job with keeping the price low: You can lease the solar panels which are installed for free (usually in one day!). No investment on your part required, not even for maintenance. Performance is tracked by a full-time monitoring system. Leasing a solar energy system means paying a monthly, locked-in, fixed rate for your power; and that’s only one of the four options SolarCity offers. What a sensible approach, but… not yet available in Canada. That’s just… so sad!