The need for a good supply of kindling wood presented itself dramatically last week with the first wintery blast. As classic rock played in the background, I put myself to the task. But even “non-stop music marathons” eventually pause for sponsorship. A parade of free skin-care trials and loan forgiveness ads passed over the airwaves. I mostly tuned them out until, “You too can own a share of our new Community Solar Farm! Subscriptions are on sale now. Call for details.” Solar’s time has come; it’s elbowing out used car dealers and Italian diners for airtime on your local radio dial!
A recent analysis by Deutsche Bank determined that by 2016, solar power will be as cheap or cheaper than electricity from the conventional grid in every state except three. Electrical generation using carbon-based fuels is rapidly becoming outmoded. And the cost differential can only grow considering that solar “fuel” is free.
And no wonder:
· Enough solar energy hits the earth every 104 minutes to power the earth for a year.
· Since the mid-2000s power generated by new solar installations in the U.S. has grown on average 66% annually.
· Solar cell prices have dropped 99% since 1977.
· “Community Solar” models like the one recently completed by Vernon Electric Coop predict that subscribers will earn 5.8% on their solar investment. (Better than money in the bank!)
· The Dept. of Defense has embraced renewable energy sources. The U.S. Navy has set a goal of 50% use of renewables by 2020.
· Today, there are more U.S. workers employed in the solar industry than in coal mining, the iron / steel industry, or in auto manufacturing.
Community-owed solar projects are springing up all around us. Instead of sending our energy dollars out of state, maybe it’s time for Iowa County to begin considering how our residents can benefit from this energy renaissance. Now that voters have overwhelmingly shown support of Bloomfield, could solar play a significant role in the refurbishment mix?
It appears that some unintended foreshadowing was in that Beatles classic oldie. “Here comes the sun…it’s alright.” It’s more than alright. The rapid advancement of solar technology is going to propel us to a more economical, cleaner future. And that’s just what our environment needs because this is the only home we’ll ever know. After all, we are forever…Earthbound.