Solar Thermal is one of Renewable Energy's best-proven and most economical installation options for homeowners and commercial buildings. Unfortunately, due to market conditions, manufacturing politics, irregular incentives and certification, and well, the 80's, SHW has never really caught on with North American consumers.

The cost savings are proven and 'plug & play' technology is ready to go.

So what's holding Solar Hot Water back?

I would argue it comes down to the industry's failure to produce accessible stories and products.

For RE to grow, the RE Movement needs to be accessible, relevant and popularly trusted [see MicroFIT: Who's in Charge? for a negative example]. While the advancements in PV have been dramatic and inspiring, I propose that Renewable Energy needs a portfolio product that is less "glamour" and more "plumber."

A steady, popular campaign highlighting a proven technology like SHW will go a long way towards making RE less intimidating to homeowners and building managers alike.

The glamour of the thousands of well-produced solar adverts and web sites (set against sweeping landscapes, vistas and clouds - and the world's largest-ever utilization of sunflower stock-photos) is quite wonderful.  It makes the technology look quite attractive and a bit futuristic.  But that's not necessarily an image that authenticates with how most consumers see themselves, and what they can afford.

For Solar Hot Water to grow in North America we need tell a simple story.  Solar Hot Water is proven.  It's reliable.  And it is economical.  I'm convinced this is the kind of marketing that will introduce the right kind of solar thermal industry to the US and Canada.  Certainly, we can improve upon the DIY, a-thousand-parts-per-installation, only-one-guy-knows-how-to-manage-this-system, SHW industry that we have at the moment.

To do this, we need to introduce solar hot water systems that authenticate a core message of accessibility and trust to consumers via easy deployment, predictable costs, and proven technologies. We need to Simplify.

To simplify is:

a. To reduce in complexity or extent.

b. To reduce to fundamental parts.

c. To make easier to understand.

That is the message we've chosen here at Alpha Thermal Systems. I believe It is what the Solar Hot Water industry needs to grow (and maybe RE in-general as well.)

Your thoughts?

[Post by Andrew J. Holden - Marketing Manager for ATS and co-owner of CartaNova Web Design]