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Solar Industry Could Learn From Google

The solar power industry could significantly accelerate mainstream adoption of photovoltaic (PV) systems if it followed Google's example, says a new study by the Topline Strategy Group, a leading technology consulting and market intelligence firm. Like Google,, and other successful companies, the solar power industry should focus on removing -- not simply overcoming -- barriers that currently prevent individuals and businesses from purchasing PV systems.

According to the study, the solar power industry faces numerous challenges in overcoming business and consumer resistance to purchasing PV systems. A lack of confidence in the technology, high initial investment, a lack of standards and best practices, concern about impact on property values, and a lack of an effective sales channel currently pose obstacles that the industry has not yet been able to surmount.

"The solar industry can look to companies like Google for learning how to accelerate technology adoption," said Jon Klein, founder and general partner of Topline Strategy. "By removing objections to the technology and providing customers with PV packages that are less costly, easy to install and support, and more accessible through accepted consumer channels, like warehouse home improvement retailers, the industry can help consumers gain confidence in PV solutions." Klein also notes that the industry must establish standards and work to simplify permitting processes nationwide.

This viewpoint is outlined in more detail in "What the Solar Power Industry Can Learn from Google and," an analysis prepared by the Topline Strategy Group and Sunlight Electric. Instead of taking a "Long Fuse" approach of slowly building credibility with early adopters and then bridging products and marketing efforts to mainstream customers, the analysis suggests that the solar industry take a "Short Fuse" approach, similar to Google, in which widespread adoption occurs far faster when barriers to adoption are removed.

"There are seven steps that the industry can take to facilitate adoption," said Klein. "They range from offering preconfigured PV system packages to offering manufacturer financing and transferable warranties. The Solar Energy Industry Association projects growth from 340 megawatts of capacity to 200,000 megawatts by 2030 -- a viable market opportunity. Those industry players that can successfully accelerate adoption stand to win substantial market share."

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