I hope the following statement sinks in because it is truly the crux of how the energy revolution begins: You can have solar panels on your house without owning them and pay a FIXED cost for your energy which is highly competitive with what you are paying now. I spoke with Nat Kreamer at the Dwell on Design conference in LA this week about Sun Run's new solar energy service...Unplggd: "How close are we to solar being competitive in the market?"
Nat: "As the technology improves in solar and the costs come down, and I think that is in the next three to five years- a lot of supply is coming in and the technology is getting better. Because of our structure, we cut out a lot of the overhead the big guys have which makes us competitive now."
Unplggd: Batteries were a way for people to get off the grid, but they also could isolate the user and were difficult to maintain... but how can your system function without the batteries?
Nat: "Doing something like solar, I mean... Doing something that is both good for you financially and environmentally... it becomes good for everyone else because when you sell that power back to the utility, when you're not using it, where does it go immediately? It's going to your next door neighbor."
Unplggd: "So there isn't any storage of the electricity?"
Nat: "That's right"
This was the real moment where I truly got how powerful this idea was; when I understood that there were no batteries in the system. This means that any energy you don't use that is created by your panels goes back into the system for anyone to use- not hoarded away in a complicated, high maintenance, currently impossible to recycle, sealed lead acid battery pack in anticipation of an apocalypse. This "unused" energy is registered as a credit to the power company and makes your house into a silent, clean, power station.
What you are doing is essentially loaning Sun Run the space to provide solar energy to you. Your house, your energy, their panels, no extra fees.Photo via unpluggedliving.com
Electricity can travel hundreds of miles before it arrvies at our lightbulbs and much is lost in the process. Producing at home eliminates that entire facet of the equation so you are not only reducing the energy extracted from the system that would power your home, but also the "shipping" of that energy. And if you are producing an energy surplus, it is reducing the cost of "shipping" to your neighbors as well.
Nat: "As these prices keep getting more and more expensive, and we see no reason why they wouldn't keep getting more expensive, solar becomes very attractive. Solar gets more cost competitive and the competition gets more expensive."
This is an equation which can't reverse since the sun stays the same and fuels are a finite resource.
If the whole country were to take up this technology, we would slowly become a FUELESS society. The question isn't whether we should grow or mine our fuel, but rather whether we need fuel at all. Sun Run's plan is to clean up the world's dependency on fuels, not just fossil fuels. No dependency on fuel means we can travel to the Middle East for the food or according to Nat, "I dont need to be worried about the geo-political security of Algeria [when powering my home]. We did some calculations and another thing to look at is dollar per mile for solar power to charge a car vs. dollar per mile for gasoline... Wow, solar is cheaper than gas! That has huge implications"
Unplggd: "So how about efficiency of the system? I mean, how do know what your system will actually provide?
Nat: "We actually provide [our customer] a generation guarantee, if we don't deliver what we say we will deliver, we give them some money back."
No "Peak Hours", no rolling blackouts, no coal to poison the air and water and no need for electricity to travel across multiple states to get to your house. Just put some panels on your house without paying for them and pay less for your energy without the prices changing on you.
"Infrastructure" is one of those trigger words that alerts one to the fact that something boring is being uttered so I will just say that there isn't one. This service uses the wires that are already attached to your house and you dont have to take a course in regionally appropriate adobe recipes to get in the right mindset to make it work. Just call and have them install and go back to your life. No extra charges.
Unplggd: "One last question, Nat: How did you come to the name Sun Run?"
Nat: "Hehe, it was a cold, January day... and uh, we were actually in Brooklyn Heights, about as far from California sun and solar as you can be, and I said, gosh, you know... what do you think about Sun Run? We kind of tried it out and before you knew it, that's what it was... And it just sort of stuck! We wanted something that would be active... and we joke about it all the time... this all started in Brooklyn Heights!"
Unplggd: "Hehe, that's funny. Well, thanks for meeting with me Nat, I appreciate you taking the time to talk."
Nat: "Thank you"
It looks as though Sun Run Generation, LLC could literally change the face of energy production. Call 877-SUN-MOJO (or 877-786-6656 if you have a blackberry;) for more info or to get started.