Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Solar?

Distributed solar energy systems are currently in direct competition with grid delivered electricity and gas.  There is very little market penetration for solar yet and those of us advocating for solar could be daunted by the slow pace of its adoption.  One of the beautiful things about distributed solar is that once a person decides to go solar, a system can be up and running on their house in a very short period of time.  A whole neighborhood could be powered by the sun in less than a couple of weeks.  Once we have a solid, national will for clean energy, scaling up distributed solar will take much less time than anyone might think.

This brings me to my point for this post--building a solid, national will for clean energy.  I have distilled the reasons for solar into the 4 points that I'll lay out below.  There are plenty more reasons for renewable energy, but I think keeping the list short and factual is most effective as I want it to be memorable and irrefutable.  Let me know what you think!

1. Fossil Fuels Pollute

Not only when burned while creating usable energy but they also pollute during extraction, refining, and transportation.  Plus we can do so many more useful things with natural gas and oil than burn it; we're going to need it for fertilizer and advanced plastics in the years ahead.

2. Foreign Energy is Dangerous

We get much of the energy we use from foreign countries.  Reliance on the energy essential to our way of life from other countries is risky no matter how friendly the countries might be today.  Energy crunches and supply interruptions create energy market turmoil that could lead even a trusted ally to ration energy that once flowed freely.  We also get much of our oil from countries that are outright hostile to the American way of life.  How long can we keep that up?  How many lives are worth sacrificing for cheaper gasoline?

3. Solar Energy is Abundant

Uranium, natural gas, oil, and coal are all energy resources that we're consuming much faster than they can be replaced.  Every year much more energy from the sun hits the Earth than we currently need to maintain our way of life.  We have the technology available to us today if we would decide to pursue significant fossil fuel reductions.  Many times we get caught in debating all the limitations of solar and wind.  I think the image above is a powerful statement to what sort of resource we're wasting as we squabble about the details.  Applying the renewable technologies that we have ready today will become a spring board for the clean energies of tomorrow.  We have to get positive feedback cycle started today.

4. Solar Pays for Itself

The sun and wind send no bills.  The utilities do however and their rates aren't going down.  What sort of payback do you want for your solar investment?  No matter where you live, I can guarantee a faster payback with a solar water heater than with sticking to a traditional water heater.  Same thing goes for a PV system or wind turbine on the electrical side.

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