SPI 2016: The Story of the Solar Brand Conundrum, Told in Tweets

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What is the solar brand? According to Paula Mints of SPV Market Research, reporting from Solar Power International (SPI) last week, we don’t really have one. And that’s something the solar industry needs to work on, stat.

This common theme throughout the conference was prominent in Wednesday’s general session, “The View from Here: The Future of US Solar Industry.”

Insights from a homebuilder

The engaging panel discussion provided a number of enlightening perspectives. David Kaiserman, President of Lennar Ventures, stood out with his insights on the industry.

Lennar is a large corporation, but it’s best known as one of the nation’s largest homebuilders — one that offers solar as an option on many new homes. So they have a unique view into what motivates both home buyers and solar customers.

Kaiserman made it clear that he thinks consumers get solar:

But that by itself is not enough to get people excited about solar and adopting it in larger numbers:

So what do we need to do? While all homes maybe “zero export” and produce their own power within 20 years, it will take some work to get there. Consumer perception will be key, so that’s what we need to work on:

Talking to consumers in their terms

How do we change consumer perception and make solar standard — or even mainstream? Maybe we’ve been talking about solar all wrong.

Michael Maulick, CEO of SunLink, pointed out that energy is a given for most people:

Guy Sella, CEO and Founder of SolarEdge, echoed that sentiment:

So we need a better way of talking about solar to consumers. We need to address them directly, said Kaiserman, and talk about solar in terms of their everyday life — not in a technical way:

We may understand the technology, but that’s not an effective focus. Instead, said Kaiserman, we should connect with those who understand how to market to consumers.

How do we make solar inevitable?

Solar may be inevitable, as Maulick asserted. But beyond that, it has the potential to be of major importance to consumers, said Tom Kimbis, Interim President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):

However, none of this is guaranteed, warned Kaiserman and Maulick:

Our goal, said Kaiserman, should be to get consumers to be makers of energy, not takers:

But as Craig Cornelius, Senior VP at NRG Energy, pointed out, we can only do that if we make solar simple:

The solar industry, he said, needs to take on those inconveniences and make it easier for people to go solar.

Opportunities and challenges ahead

Ultimately, we have a huge opportunity in a thriving industry:

But we need to claim that opportunity:

A call to action for the solar industry

The general session left us all feeling energized and ready to take action! What do we need to do?

To recap:

  • Consumers get solar — it captures their attention and is resonant with them.
  • But we can’t rest on that; we need to keep solar relevant and exciting.
  • An electron is an electron is an electron. Most people don’t think about the energy in their homes; they just expect it to be there.
  • To get them excited about solar, we need to talk to them in terms of their lives, not technology.
  • We need to speak “consumer speak” and learn to market solar better.
  • We need to keep it simple to go solar, and turn consumers into “makers not takers” of energy.
  • We need to claim our #BigBrandMoment!

Are you ready?