Hollywood A-listers join the solar revolution

Sian Younisby Sian Younis (guest post), , 2 Comments
Hollywood Hills, Source: Alexander Hauk

Over recent years, it appears that many celebrities are jumping on the eco-bandwagon. As going green becomes more chic, celebrities are embracing solar energy, installing it in their homes (or islands, if you are Johnny Depp … more on that later!) and then shouting about it from their solar panelled rooftops.

Influencing PV as a lifestyle choice

For PV professionals and manufacturers alike, this increase in celebrity ambassadors to help fuel the renewable energy debate is sure to be one big high five! Or is it? Well, it certainly is a good sign. People look up to celebrities, and movies are designed to inspire. If they are seen to be more environmentally conscious then people are more likely to follow suit, or perhaps get curious enough to explore a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Emission impossible

For example, take the recent plug-in hybrid BMW i8 concept car that features in Mission Impossible 4. A supercharged Ethan Hunt speeding around the streets of Mumbai in an electric car was certainly a winner with me on many levels, however, this advanced innovation in hybrid road cars has taken us all by surprise and this movie is sure to influence how quickly people will start to adopt the concept. Electric cars are cool, not toys anymore and they are here to stay.

The Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, source: Sebastian Stefanov, www.gameobserver.com

The Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, source: Sebastian Stefanov, www.gameobserver.com

PV – the new Hollywood must-have

The same applies to solar PV. Many celebrities have already installed PV and publicised it in a positive way. Each celebrity has their own agenda for joining the solar revolution. Some are true organic eating, tree-hugging eco-warriors; some want to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and do their bit; and some are simply aware that they are zillionaires and want PV on their homes ‘just because they can’. Whatever their reason for going solar, they are all likely to admit that it has changed their lifestyle for the better.

A-listers already gone solar

Here are some examples of well-publicised celebrity eco-warriors who, in my humble opinion, are the real deal:

Colin Firth, UK’s very own Mr Darcy and his wife, Italian film-maker Livia Firth are passionate environmentalists. They have brought eco-chic to Chiswick, London by opening ‘Eco-Age’ a 3-storey shop selling all things ethical. The shop has a vertical roof garden and terrace ingeniously designed to incorporate solar panels.

Staying in London, K T Tunstall, globally renowned singer/songwriter has recently renovated her city home by installing 11 solar panels on the roof with a separate completely solar powered studio.

Across the pond, the ultimate in Hollywood contradiction has to be the beloved, Larry Hagman. Those of you who are old enough to remember the 80s series, Dallas the first time round (did you know it’s making a comeback?) will remember the man we loved to hate, Texan oil tycoon, JR Ewing. As Bob Dylan famously said, ‘the times-they-are-a-changing’, JR Ewing has swapped his big hat and Texan fossil-fuelled high life and is now promoting solar power! On his Ojai, California estate, he has a 94kW solar power system. It has been reported that Larry Hagman’s annual electricity bill has shrunk from $37,000 to a mere $13,000 (according to the LA Times). As Larry says in the ad campaign for SolarWorld … “Shine, Baby, Shine”.

There are simply too many celebrities embracing solar power to mention so I will finish with these two personal favourites:

Brad Pitt, another recruit to the solar revolution. Mr Pitt’s environmental dedication goes well beyond the solar panels he has fitted to his and Angelina’s modest Lousianna dwelling. He helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to build fast, affordable housing to the low-income residents and made the housing sustainable. All homes completed to date have both solar hot water and solar PV systems.

Finally, last but by no means least, infamous swashbuckler, Johnny Depp (the coolest guy on the planet) owns an eco-hideout in the Bahamas. Not simply a bijou villa with own pool for the odd holiday with the kids but a 35-acre island! Oh no, Captain Jack doesn’t do things by halves. Let’s face it, an island in the middle of nowhere is going to be a little ‘off-grid’ so Depp has used advanced solar technology to make his island getaway an eco-friendly, self-sustaining, ethical paradise. Room for a little one, Mr Depp?

Genuinely eco?

It’s difficult to be sure when celebrities commit to eco-living that they are truly taking a stand or if they are simply rolling with the in-vogue punches, however, I don’t see anything wrong with following the example of these Hollywood a-listers who are certainly leading the way into renewable sustainability.

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