Photovoltaics are Contagious

Maybe it is a bit frivolous to mention contagiousness in times of a pandemic, but not all contagion is necessarily bad as we shall discover.

A recent study called “Decay Radius of Climate Decision for solar panels in the City of Fresno, USA” by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has found, that the likelihood of private individuals to install photovoltaic systems on their properties is primarily driven by the proximity of existing installations around them. All other factors turn out to be much less significant, including all economical and demographical influences.

In other words: Photovoltaics are contagious – or shall I rather say: Existing photovoltaic systems are inspiring. After all they prove, that other people can do it, so why couldn’t you? And there are people out there who have done it and still live to tell the tale.

For the more mathematically inclined: The decay radius formula derived in the study is y » exp(-r/210 m). Thus the “force of photovoltaic inspiration” – to avoid the unpopular word contagion – follows the law of exponential decline, which is a property of many natural processes. A decay radius of 210 metres indicates that the effect loses about two thirds (63,2 % to be exact) of its impact at that distance.

All of this is true if you live in Fresno, California, since that was the data set used in the study. Generalizing those findings is difficult, though the study mentions one important exception: Germany. There, the probability to install photovoltaic panels depends largely on the socio-economic profile of the household, making solar power more of a choice for the well-to-do.

At any rate, solar power is cheap, abundant and reduces the stress on our environment.

So, if you live in Germany: Please check your wallet and see, what you can do. If you live in other places: Please check the roofs of your neighbours and get inspired!

This article was also published on LinkedIn.

You may also want to read: Solar Energy is the Cheapest Power Source

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