Solar Power Now

We all know oil will all be gone one of these days.  Right?   Natural gas too.  Coal will last for a hundred years or so.  In the meantime causing great pollution and global warming.  So, what will our great, great grandchildren do for energy?  Fortunately, this old earth is blessed with abundant energy from the sun, wind, tides and geo-thermal.  The sun alone provides enough energy to supply our needs a hundred times over.  Enough sunlight strikes the earth every 104 minutes to power the entire world for a year.

If you are like many other Rossmoor residents, you have thought about the possibility of putting solar panels on your roof.  Maybe this column will motivate you to action.

Affordability

Think you can’t afford to put in solar panels?  There are companies out there who will install them for no money down and guarantee a reduced power bill.  How can you lose on that? From 2010 to 2013, the cost of solar panels dropped by about 30%.  Unlike fossil fuels, solar panels generate electricity without contributing  to  air pollution or  global warming.

Along with these increasingly attractive economics and its environmental benefits, solar power creates jobs.  The U.S. solar industry employed more than 140,000 people in 2013 and the  number of homes investing in solar is increasing at a rate of 50% per year.  A national study showed that job creation in clean energy outdoes fossil fuels by a margin of 3-to-1.

It is estimated that by 2016, solar generated electricity will be as inexpensive as electricity generated by other methods in every state except three.  No, California isn’t one of the three!

Local Statistics

88 different companies have installed one or more solar systems in Walnut Creek alone.  Solar PV panels now adorn the roofs of over 400,000 American homes, including many in places like Massachusetts, which don’t have anywhere near as much sunshine as we enjoy.

Last year, solar energy accounted for 30% of newly installed   electricity capacity in this country.  This year, a new system goes in every 2.4 minutes.  Meanwhile, Germany and a few other countries are ahead of us in solar generation.  Germany has 1.4 million panels installed, along with 24,000 wind turbines.  31 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources; up to 74% on sunny and/or windy days.

This isn’t experimental, folks.  We installed ours   in 2003 and haven’t had a problem with them.  There are no moving parts to wear out.  We are lucky to have a south facing roof. Not everyone is so fortunate, so maybe you can’t take advantage of this technology.  Some people also have large trees shading their roofs…so, it isn’t for everyone.  When we installed our panels, we received a nice tax rebate.  These incentives are still available.  Lest the Republicans decry me getting this help from Uncle Sam, I would like to point out that fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy…$446.96 billion from 1994 to 2009, whereas renewable energy sources received just $5.93 billion (adjusted for inflation).

Are you interested in finding out whether solar is right for you?  Fortunately, there is lots of assistance available on the internet.  Two sites in particular will guide you through the process and help you determine how much money you can save  www.ebenergy.org and www.pge.com/solar.

Don’t let our sunny days go to waste….go solar!

This article first appeared in the Progressive View column of the December 03, 2014 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Bob Hanson.

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