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Keeping Up With the Jones' in Building a Bright and Sustainable Future

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Keeping Up With the Jones' in Building a Bright and Sustainable Future

What could spur investment in sustainable energy? Researchers look at the effects of peer pressure in installing solar panels.

Would you be more likely to install solar panels on your home if everyone in the neighbourhood had them? A recent study conducted by Yale and New York University suggests that this might be the case.

In studying the nature of solar panel installations in California between 2001 and 2011, researchers found that homeowners are more likely to install solar panels when their neighbours of the same zip code or street already had them installed.

The study also showed that the visibility of the panels and word-of-mouth led to larger installations. “If my neighbor installs a solar panel and tells me he's saving money and he's really excited about it, it's likely I’ll go ahead and do the same thing,” said Kenneth Gillingham, assistant professor of economics at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “Then there are others who'll install because they don't want to be one-upped by their neighbors.”

Bright side of solar

As the technology evolves (and as gas prices increase) solar energy is becoming more of a viable option for generating heat and electricity.

Once installed, solar panels provide a means for virtually free energy with zero emissions. Solar energy is also unlimited and available anywhere in the world. In just 20 minutes, the earth receives enough solar energy to power our planet for an entire year.

Other benefits

  • “Solar is very flexible and modular. It can provide energy on its own, connected to a grid, or jointly with other energy sources.
  • Solar can meet a wide range of applications for heat and power and provides an excellent match with summer energy demands.
  • Solar systems have few moving parts, are clean to use, use commonly available materials, and provide users with more control over their energy systems.”

—From the Pembina Institute

Solar energy in Canada

Many regions in Canada have abundant access to the sun’s rays—particularly Ontario, Quebec, and the prairies.

The more remote areas in the country stand to benefit greatly from the technology. These regions are largely inaccessible and tapping into main power grids can be costly. Many northern communities also currently rely on costly diesel generators as an energy source.

Read more on sustainable energy

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