After a series of strenuous interviews and a brief interaction with Elon, the genius himself. I was hired as the CIO (Chief Innovation Officer) of SolarCity. SolarCity is a PV installation firm that is unique in that it is the only firm that manufactures and installs its solar panels. Coming into the job, I noticed a few things about SolarCity. We are the largest provider of residential solar installations with about 40% of the market, we have affordable leasing contracts that allow lower-income families to afford solar power. The last five years have yielded over 100% system installation growth year-over-year and still, of the whole country, only about 1 million US homes have been fitted with solar panels. 1 million out of over 120 million homes. As the CIO, I see at it as my duty to spread awareness about the positive environmental and economic impacts of installing solar PV.
In order to spread awareness I have decided to bring aboard one of my old college roommates, an expert in social media and the founder of the immensely popular app Snapchat, Evan Spiegel. It took some convincing to get Evan on board but I assured him that he could keep his role as CEO of Snapchat, we just needed him as a consultant. Evan was also happy to join as he understood the importance of our mission. I wanted Evan’s help because we needed someone who could help us make solar pv cool. It was easy to explain the positives of installing our panels, we just had to make helping the environment and saving money over the long term cool. So, Evan helped us by adding special solar facts to his snapchats and created a snap story that could be viewed by all snapchat owners of some of the cool things that you could spend your savings on after retaining some extra income by using solar panels. Since the solar panel’s payback period is about 6 years, we highlighted some of the cool inventions that would be out in the near future.
This innovation would reach children, millennials and their parents. The majority of kids and millennials have Snapchat and after viewing all the advantages of installing solar pv they will talk to their parents about it or, if they are old enough, take the initiative to have solar panels installed at their own homes. This innovation will affect individuals and communities across the US. In lower income areas, the PV system can store energy for multiple home and save money for the whole community. In these towns where government subsidies cover many of the living costs for the residents, a solar system would greatly benefit the community. Even in communities where people are wealthier, one family installing panels will only encourage their neighbors to do the same. Ultimately, this will lead us to a country that is powered by renewable energy. Now, Solar PV does not have to dominate the entire residential energy market, but there is huge potential for us even if we tap into just half of or even a third of all homes in the US.
After the success of my innovation, Evan approached me and asked how I came up with the idea to spread solar awareness and even went on to as why it was a good idea. I thought for a while about the question. I answered that Ed Freeman was a huge influence in my line of thinking. Previously, with the shareholder theory, businesses only operated to make the most profits. With that theory in mind, there is no reason to stray from using oil, coal and natural gas for energy. But when you look at the stakeholders, like Freeman suggests, it becomes clear that many people are negatively effected by the excessive emissions caused by burning fossil fuels. Evan and I focused on those stakeholders and brought to light many of the issues that go largely unnoticed when only considering the shareholder’s perspective. I think that my innovation is a step in the right direction for all people as the threat of environmental corrosion is a global phenomenon. We have only reached the residential market with today’s ideas, but tomorrow I hope to encourage the same changes in people and businesses alike.