Solar Power: Dwarfing the Carbon Giant
It’s been called a solar renaissance, a solar revolution, a solar craze and solar mania. Whatever you want to call it, every day more and more people are investing in solar panels. Whether it’s the result of ecological consciousness, economics reasons or political predisposition, consumers have come to realize that the brightest star in the heavens can brighten their lives without lightening their wallets.
It has been estimated that solar power has doubled since 2011. Last year alone, an estimated 400,000 homes installed solar panels and continue to reap the rewards every day. The panels pay for themselves through significantly reduced energy costs and the sale of any excess energy to utility companies. In addition, when installed before 2016, the consumer is eligible for a 30% tax credit from the federal government.
Although there are countless statistics to support the impact of a growing solar industry, we cannot ignore the problems we still face from carbon emissions. Sadly, in a universal comparison, solar advances continue to be dwarfed by various forms of carbon emitting energy resources. In 2013, British Petroleum issued a report stating that the total global production of solar energy equaled approximately 600,000 barrels of oil per day. Interpretation: in 2013, the total amount of solar power generated around the world was equivalent to just one-half the amount of oil produced in the United States alone. That same year, we learned that coal power usage grew by nearly 3%. Through this report it became blatantly clear that we have not begun to scratch the surface regarding the reduction of carbon emitting energy resources nor a significant decline in our collective carbon footprint.
Today, thanks to consumers becoming more knowledgeable about pricing, applicable tax credits, the long-term savings and environmental benefits of solar power, solar is growing at an amazingly rapid pace. This progress is further fueled by the significant decrease in the prices of solar panel installations. While this is all positive news, we still lag far behind the carbon emission giants we are trying to defeat.
If we are to remain the greatest country in the world, we must take giant steps toward empowering ourselves on every level, especially energy. The best way to achieve this goal is by proactively establishing and funding research programs and developing creative incentives to harness and utilize solar power. The sun, after all, is the only never-ending source of energy to which no country nor entity can lay claim.
As we entered 2014, statistics set forth by International Energy Agency indicated that Germany, China, Italy, Japan and the U.S. accounted for more than 70 percent of the world’s total installed solar energy generation. Yes, the U.S. is ranked number five, a ranking with which none of us should be pleased. We already know that with a $1 billion commitment from Deutsch Bank, Japan is expected to take a giant leap to the front of the line. So what should we do?
- Educate consumers on the individual and collective benefits of solar power
- Initiate ongoing incentives to generate more solar installations
- Collaborate with alternative energy experts to remain at the forefront of energy efficient solutions
- Insure compliance with existing renewable energy mandates and institute new ones to facilitate more rapid growth in this sector
It’s time to take a giant step toward dwarfing the carbon giant. It may take a universal commitment, but it is doable as it must be if we are to provide a cleaner, greener and healthier world for future generations.