No matter what you think about the current presidential administration, the current US Department of Energy is huge proponent of solar technologies under Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning scientist. Case in point is the DOE’s development of Solar Heating and Cooling Roadmap, which should be released in its final version this year.
We wanted to share a few of the charts in the draft of the roadmap, which show how solar is being used around the world, its potential in the U.S., and our “take-away” from these graphics.
Chart 1: First, let’s look at the number of solar hot water installations in the U.S., from 1974 to 2010. As many solar water heating veterans and arm chair historians recall, there was a big boom and a bust in solar water heating in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. The boom was driven by energy independence incentives driven by the OPEC oil embargo. The bust was a result of the embargo ending and President Reagan ending those subsidies. The take away: The US needs pro-solar policies and incentives in order to grow solar water heating consistently. That’s why Free Hot Water is a member of SEIA, and we urge you to support them, as well.
Chart 2: Now, let’s look at the water heating energy sources in the U.S. As we can see, solar is a sliver in the chart, natural gas takes up 54%, but there’s that 39% of the U.S. who are using inefficient and expensive electricity to heat their water. The take away: There’s a huge untapped electric water heating market ready to be replaced by solar water heating. Build a marketing message to those customers.
Chart 3: Let’s move on to energy usage for residential energy. Between space heating, space cooling, and water heating, there’s an amazing 72% of the pie chart that could be replaced with various solar thermal technologies. The take away: Again, the U.S. has so much potential for clean solar water heating technology, but they just don’t know it. More marketing and strong solar policies are needed to help grow demand.
Chart 4: We love this one: A survey of 21 countries by the International Energy Agency, Solar Heating and Cooling. Program shows actual uses of industrial solar thermal systems, demonstrating the wide range of potential uses for solar thermal technologies. The take away: If you’re looking for commercial solar thermal applications in the US, here are some of the industries to target.