STIRRINGS- Resources for Leadership Development - Guest post by Deacon Wil Ranney
Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced of the devastating effect that climate change has on the world’s poor? Is there anyone out there that still needs to be convinced that people (we) are creating the problem? Is there anyone out there not convicted by Scripture to be good stewards of the earth?
If you can answer yes to one of those questions, email me, we’ll talk.
The next question is a harder. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel like they can make a difference? This is where Solar comes in.
Solar’s PR Problem
Solar has something of a PR problem, one that’s cleverly perpetuated by fossil fuel lobbies. In the 70′s when solar first hit the scene, people quickly discovered how pathetic solar was at harvesting energy. They could only capture about 10% of the energy that was hitting them. However, even in the last five years, there have been major improvements made in Solar panel efficiency. Some of these improvements have been made right here in Iowa.
The latest solar innovations are pushing 40% efficiency, meaning we’ve experienced a 400% increase! The cheapest mass market options are around 25% efficient, still great. This is not your parent’s solar we’re talking about!
It’s Too Cloudy in Iowa
Germany, has roughly the same cloud cover as Iowa, and had a day last month where 75% of their power came from solar! They average above 30%.
It Takes Too Long to Get Your Money Back
According to CleanTechnica, the average payback for a solar project in Iowa is 17 years. Remember, these figures are based on older technology. 17 years might seem like a long time, but divide that by 100 and you’ll see that your rate of return is about 5.8% a year! What other safe investment will give you that rate of return. You’d be lucky to get .58%.
Where Will We Find the Money?
This takes a little creativity, but not too much. There are investment boards (like the Board of Pensions) that are always looking for safe investments and would be natural partners. Not surprisingly, there are lots of finance companies that are popping up to help out with solar projects because to the reliable rate of the return. Many of these are non-profit. Also, you could always offer bond options to your congregants. Solar panels are hardy, and last more than 25 years, which means at least 8 years of pure profit.
It Doesn’t Look “Churchy”
Sure it won’t fit in with your Akron Plan, red brick building; but what says “churchy” more than putting your commitment to God’s justice on public display!
Do You Have the Will?
It all comes down to this question. There are no other excuses that make sense. This is the very picture of a “win win” situation. There is little know financial risk and you meaningfully reduce your carbon emissions. What are we waiting for Iowa?