Reasons go solar – I try very hard not to make our blog a political manifesto in spite of my sometimes-passionate beliefs, but the reasons to go solar and related topics is just too important. I was driving back from a solar residential job a few days ago listening to a program on National Public Radio. The short segment was talking about Menlo Park California and the soon to happen vote on a new city law relating to the size of lawns etc to help conserve water. The moderator was engaging while they talked about the growing need to conserve water, which was the driving force behind the laws, and interview several people from California as well as Arizona. What they did not do was spend one min. of airtime on why we should be very afraid of pending water shortages.
The problem is in this country, the media and government officials on most levels just DO NOT GET IT or if they do get it they are intentionally trying to conceal it. To be sure, water is going to get in shorter supply because of growing population but the issue is much bigger than that.
Reasons Go Solar – Global warming? Just turn up the thermostat a few degrees, problem solved right? Wrong! The problem is called global warming and there will be some warming but the real issue is climate change and we should be talking about it in economic terms. A 5 °F increase is the average temperature will raise the snow pack in the Sierra Mountains 1,500 ft. Water in the form of snow that was stored into the summer will run off and the 2 billion dollar agriculture industry in California goes broke. Snow in Washington state is pushed 500 miles further north, same economic effect. Florida looses all of its coastal revenue because the beaches are now gone.
There should not be an evening news broadcast, program or discussion that occurs in this country without everyone talking about eliminating our dependency on foreign fossil fuels and other reasons to go solar. Really folks, what are we doing to ourselves? Climate change, jobs in this country… but just forget all that for a moment let’s look deeper into some reasons go solar. We buy oil from governments that do not like us. We export the wealth in this country, they give some portion of the money we send them to pay for people who attack us then we have to pay to prevent future attacks. Why would we continue to do that?
The large amount of land required for utility-scale solar power plants-approximately one square kilometer for every 20-60 megawatts (MW) generated-poses an additional problem, especially where wildlife protection is a concern. But this problem is not unique to solar power plants. Generating electricity from coal actually requires as much or more land per unit of energy delivered if the land used in strip mining is taken into account. Solar-thermal plants (like most conventional power plants) also require cooling water, which may be costly or scarce in desert areas.
Large central power plants are not the only option for generating energy from sunlight, however, and are probably among the least promising. Because sunlight is dispersed, small-scale, dispersed applications are a better match to the resource. They can take advantage of unused space on the roofs of homes and buildings and in urban and industrial lots. And, in solar building designs, the structure itself acts as the collector, so there is no need for any additional space at all.
It is encouraging to see cities like Sacramento, San Francisco and other local municipalities taking bold brave stances and finding reasons go solar solutions. We are starting to see programs in place to help finance solar and other clean renewable energy sources through property taxes. Programs are beginning to pop up that defer the cost of the solar for homes and include it in your property taxes. Since the solar on the house will likely last as long as the house does, this would allow the solar systems debt to stay with the property as it passed from owner to owner as the debt is retired. Positive cash flow for the existing owner and we spread solar across the many rooftops reducing our dependence on oil and strengthening our national defense. How is that for a home run, out of the ballpark win?
It is long past time the people in this country stop relying on congress to help us out of this economic, national security and climate change mess. It does not matter which party the congressperson belongs too, the lobbyist in Washington have them in their pockets and they are not letting go. It is up to us now on a local level to effect real change and find ways and reasons go solar and other clean local renewable sources.
In the interest of full disclosure, some parts of this were taken from the website of Union of Concerned Scientists.