by: Joshua J. Meunier
Today technology is expanding. One of those technologies is the ability to produce energy with solar power. Solar power harnesses the power of the sun and converts it to energy that is stored in battery stations and is converted to power to be provided to homes. Solar energy, itself, is a very efficient technology that does not harm the environment compared to nuclear power plants. Today the people of the United States see solar power as a great technology; however, there are still a number of people who see downsides to keeping and running solar power due to budget costs and hazards. With the minor flaws to installing this technology, solar power is a great technology that can be implemented throughout the world.
Today there are thousands of uses for solar power. Solar power can power homes, businesses, transportation, and even small to medium weight electronics. According to the video Conservation and Energy Alternatives: Powering the Future, Dr. Zhengrong, an established business owner of Suntech, owns the second largest solar cells selling company. One of the students that worked with him claimed that solar panels are going to be a worldwide necessity as prices go down over the next few years. “As prices of both thin film and standard screen printed solar cells come down, we’re going to see them integrated everywhere” (Conservation). This indicates that solar power will be utilized everywhere in the world as time comes. Not only businesses will be utilizing the technology but homeowners will be utilizing it.
Solar cells and energy peak the interests of people because it does not require as much work as is required to install gas lines, power lines, and more. In a recent study, the nuclear power industry asked over “1,000 Americans what energy source they thought would be used most for generating electricity in 15 years” (Revkin A1+). The number one choice was solar energy. Brown states that the solar energy development is hastening in this economy as the installation of rooftop solar water heaters proceeds (Brown).
In addition Amanda Wilson, author of “Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy,” states that several students built and displayed solar houses on the National Mall in Washington (Wilson). This shows that there are many college students willing to prove that solar power is a very effective way to provide energy to the people of Earth, and also off Earth missions for NASA. Wilson goes on states:
The energy-efficient homes were designed and constructed during the Solar Decathlon, a biennial collegiate competition sponsored by the Department of Education (DOE) that challenges students to design and build solar-powered homes that are affordable, energy-efficient, and architecturally well-designed and then present them to the public (Wilson).
On the other hand, there have been a few accidents from building homes with solar panels. Building homes with solar panels involves enhanced more techniques, but includes the same duties as a home builder who doesn’t install solar panels. The installation of solar panels is much more dangerous such as slipping and falling due to no support while walking on solar panels to get to the other side of the house. In her article, Tiffany Hsu tells her readers that a student who was on break from his graduate studies went to work in a housing complex. After six months of installing solar panels he fell to his death (Hsu B.1). Even with the hazards, the numbers are still very small compared to wind turbine power. “Wind turbine accidents involving injuries and equipment damage have surged over the last Decade…” (Hsu B.1). Hsu also states the following information about wind power compared to solar power:
In 2008 with 128 incidents worldwide, according to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum. Since the 1970s, there have been 78 fatalities, with about half in the U.S. The number of solar incidents is harder to gauge, but most industry workers say it’s rising (B.1).
The U.S. government along with other countries is interested in this technology because, yes, it helps the environment and is a lot better to implement. This is why the U.S. government and the Obama administration are getting prepared. “The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled its road map for solar energy development, directing large-scale industrial projects to 285,000 acres of desert land in the western U.S.” (Cart AA.1). So far the U.S. is prepared to implement this state-wide solar energy system. So, the Department of Interior (DOI), according to Gillette’s article, has permitted nearly 31 renewable energy projects with 17 of them being solar energy since 2009. This is the first time the government has approved solar projects on public land (Gillette). Several million houses will be powered by this new found technology once built.
Currently, we are using wind turbines out in the West; however, having the turbines alone does not help since wind is not constant and causes more harm than solar power installation. Same goes for solar power: the sun is not always available, meaning at night, so we have to run off of energy we have stored in those power houses that energy from solar panels store.
While we are concerned for solar power in the United States, we are looking at other countries as well. In June, the Secretary of the Interior approved a solar installation project in an Indian country. Gillette also states that the project is part of Obama’s strategy for solar energy installation and turning the world green (Gillette). We are not the only country in the world with poverty and with energy needs. America wants to help other countries and has decided to help these Indian countries with their energy needs. Many of the Indian cultures do not harness the power of energy, so they use what they have such as candles, fires, and other alternatives to light. Now that the U.S. has approved solar project installations in their country, they will not hurt from the inability to advance technologically.
With the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) leading the project, “the Moapa Band of Paiutes came to the Interior Department with their development partner… to discuss their plans and after initial discussion, BIA recommended that the project be included on the Department’s Priority Project List (Gillette). So the Department of the Interior and the Obama administration are not only interested in themselves, but they are interested in outside countries incorporating the technology.
In order for the world to continue its energy use, we are preparing solar powered systems to sustain power. The college students who participated in the Solar Decathlon, helped show the American people that solar energy can be harnessed and used in homes and that it can be built. Even those outside of our country are benefiting from the use of solar power, as we help them, especially with the lowering prices of materials required to make the solar panels and solar cells. The 1,000 Americans who answered the surveys proclaimed that the world would be utilizing solar power as its number one power source within the next fifteen years. We have already prepared for solar installation with the start of rooftop water heater installations, which brings us closer to advancement. The number of accidents and hazards due to the installation of solar panels is very low compared to the numbers when installing wind turbine generators. Therefore, using solar energy is the better choice than the other alternative energy.
Brown, Lester R. “Turning Toward the Sun for Energy.” Global Information Network. 09 Jun. 2011: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 16 Jul. 2012.
Cart, Julie. “Solar Energy Zones’ Set Aside.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Oct. 2011: AA.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 15 Jul. 2012.
Conservation and Energy Alternatives: Powering the Future. Films on Demand, 2001. Galileo. Web. 1 Jul. 2012.
Gillette, Jodi, Del Laverdure, and Tracey LeBeau. “Interior Department Helps Indian Country Go Green.” U.S. Dept. of the Interior. 22 Jun 2012. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 25 Jul 2012.
Hsu, Tiffany. “The Dark Side of Solar, Wind Power.” Los Angeles Times. 03 Aug. 2011: B.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 16 Jul. 2012.
Revkin, Andrew C., and Matthew L. Wald. “The Energy Challenge: Solar Power Captures Imagination, Not Money.” New York Times (New York, NY). 16 Jul 2007: A1+. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 25 Jul 2012.
Wilson, Amanda. “Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy.” Global Information Network. 04 Oct. 2011. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web 15 Jul. 2012.