Thomas Neyhart founded PosiGen to make clean, renewable solar energy cheaper and more accessible for all. Here Mr. Neyhart outlines his case for investing in solar and describes how the many benefits of solar are slowly but surely driving positive change in the U.S. energy market.
Facts, Figures, and Findings on U.S. Solar
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the United States added five gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity in Q1 2021 for a total of almost 103 gigawatts of installed capacity. This is enough to power over 18 million American homes. Our solar generation offsets 70 million metric tons or more of carbon dioxide every year, which is equivalent to planting over one billion trees.
According to Thomas Neyhart, these numbers are promising, but solar energy still only accounts for about 2% of all utility-scale electrical generation in the country, as per the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Still, there is good news, and Thomas Neyhart is confident that we are moving in the right direction. Roughly 2.5 billion watts of utility-scale solar infrastructure is under construction today, and many sectors and industrial leaders are coming around to the environmental benefits and cost savings that can be generated by solar.
The proof is all in the numbers, and Thomas Neyhart points to a number of respected reports and solar agencies make his case for increased investment in the solar space. According to one report, the fastest-growing job in America today is Solar Photovoltaic Installer. According to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), there are over 230,000 solar workers in America, which is more than coal, oil, and natural gas combined. Finally, according to Energy Sage, a leading news agency for the solar industry, solar panel efficiency increased almost 600% over the last 50 years. New solar power plants can even save as much as $10 for every megawatt-hour of energy produced when compared with current coal-powered plants.
The business case for going solar could not be any stronger, even if we did not have the climate change imperative we face today for investing in and adopting cleaner energy sources. Although most commercial concerns offer 20-year warranties on their installs, many panels work well beyond the two-decade mark. Furthermore, many of the materials used in solar panels, from glass and plastic to silicon, aluminum, and other metals can be recycled.
We can highlight many other trends and developments that indicate that solar is here to stay and will enjoy increased adoption over the years to come. A Deloitte survey found that almost 60% of respondents installed solar panels because they are clean and do not accelerate climate change, while a similar proportion of respondents were motivated by cost-savings to install solar panels. A similar Pew Research Center study found that almost 90% of Americans are in favor of constructing more solar capacity, and 300 mayors across the country have signed Environment America's "Mayors For Solar Energy" initiative.
From Conception to Reality
For solar, as is true for any business, nothing matters more than where the rubber meets the road. Designing, marketing, deploying, and maintaining solar infrastructure requires more than a strong business case and the willingness of decision-makers and the general public to get on board with clean, efficient energy initiatives.
According to various sources, over 75% of American homes cannot install solar panels on their homes. Obstacles to installation include low FICO scores, a lack of incentives, and ambiguity regarding solar installation laws. HOA rules, community-level access, and the availability of trained technicians can also impede the installation of solar panels on the homes of otherwise willing customers.
According to The Free Energy Project, we would need about 21,000 square miles of solar panels to meet the country's electric power needs. This is about one-third of the amount of land half of the amount of land leased by the oil and gas industries (over 40,000 square miles, as per the Bureau of Land Management).
Thomas Neyhart states that if we were to outfit residential rooftops in America with solar panels, we could generate as much as 40% of our electricity needs. This assessment is based on figures from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).
Thomas Neyhart and The PosiGen Mission
These are the goals behind PosiGen. The vision of Thomas Neyhart is to provide cost-effective and hassle-free solar energy to homes across the country. PosiGen does not have any credit score requirements and Thomas Neyhart has stated that he strives to make it easier for families to install, maintain, and save by going solar. His company provides free audits and assessments so that users know what and where they will save, and users can also lock in their electrical bills so that they can better plan and manage usage. They can also benefit by selling excess power generation back to the grid thanks to PosiGen's two-way electrical metering.
Solar capacity in the United States is growing. Based on surveys and investment figures, it is clear that business, community, and political leaders are slowly but surely taking to the idea of solar as a viable, affordable, and effective way to meet our power needs. Time will tell how future developments will unfold, but for now, PosiGen, Thomas Neyhart, and many other solar and energy players and making moves that will have an impact on climate, the environment, our laws, and the way we design cities and buildings for years to come.