If there are any entrepreneurs or investors out there looking for an idea, you might think about starting or investing in the Salesforce.com of solar power. Solar power is unique among electricity generation technologies. Where economies of scale mean that gas and coal fired plants, wind turbines, and nuclear power will all be owned and operated by utilities (I don’t think anyone has plans to install a 400′ high wind turbine capable of powering a few thousand plasma TVs on their roof), solar power costs about the same per kilowatt if you install 10 kilowatts – the average usage of an American homeowner – or 10,000 kilowatts – the size of a commercial power plant.
The table below shows a comparison of the price of solar energy and traditional electricity for utilities and residential and commercial customers in $/kilowatt-hour.
Price of Conventional Electricity
Price of Solar Electricity*
*California prices. Solar Electricity costs are calculated post subsidies and rebates.
As you can see from the numbers, While it never makes sense for a utility to install a large solar farm (it would cost them over $.13 per kilowatt-hour vs under $.03 to buy electricity on the wholesale market), it is theoretically possible for solar power to be cost effective for a homeowner or small business operator to install. I use the term theoretical since if you have ever tried to buy solar electricity equipment, it becomes evident that the pain of acquiring it well exceeds the modest financial benefits of doing so.
That is why we are calling for entrepreneurs and investors to start and invest in a solar Salesforce.com. Just as Salesforce.com made CRM accessible to the mainstream market by making it simple to acquire, configure and use, someone needs to do the same for solar power. Since I am planning on installing solar electricity at our house in the spring, I’d appreciate if someone could get this started before then.