Powering a Movement: Solar, Efficiency, and Emerging Technologies

Circa 1984, Southface co-founder Dennis Creech (seventh from left) pictured with a breadbox solar heater, one of the earliest solar thermal technologies that Southface touted.

The energy crisis of the 1970s heralded a renaissance of research and investment in solar and energy-efficient technologies. Though early solar technology was cost-prohibitive for most consumers, the potential for renewable energy to revolutionize the market was clear.

In Georgia, the Georgia Solar Coalition (later to become Southface) led the state in embracing solar technology and energy-efficient building solutions. In its earliest days, the organization led workshops and trainings on breadbox solar water heaters, thermosiphon air panels, residential building, air-sealing and insulation techniques in addition to other technologies that would help homeowners lower their power bills and have free energy from the sun. As the organization’s identity evolved, so did its breadth of expertise. Southface’s scope would expand to include climate science, water efficiency, advanced building science, energy code, and equity in the built environment.

Southface’s early work in solar and energy-efficiency would come to define its mission. Through the manpower of volunteers and a dedicated staff, the organization aligned its work with a worldwide movement focused on helping people reduce their environmental impact, and improving the quality of life for everyone.

Solar has always played prominently in Southface’s efforts to create a better built environment through state-of-the-art technology. With cost-benefits improving over the decades, the market embraced energy efficient solutions and turned to Southface for education, training, and advocacy. From thermal solutions to photovoltaic (PV) technology, Southface bridged the gap for consumers ready to make the leap into sustainability.

Today, solar energy is one of America’s cleanest domestic energy sources, and Georgia shows strong growth potential, with more than 225 solar companies at work in the state and group purchasing initiatives throughout the state. With the cost of solar panels falling 53 percent over the last five years, the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, and the potentiality of rising electricity costs, rooftop solar is increasingly an enticing and viable option for homeowners. Furthermore, storage system manufacturers have entered the market with cost-effective storage technologies to provide a smart energy alternative solution.

For those considering a solar, remember this parting shot from Southface: “The cheapest energy dollar is the one you don’t spend.”

 

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