The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster - 200,000 gallons a day - that currently threatens
Of all the renewable energy sources, solar energy is drawing the most attention for its potential to wean
Although sunlight is abundant and free, solar cells and the equipment needed to convert their direct-current output to alternating current (panels, inverter, charge controller, storage batteries) is expensive. Electricity generated by solar cells currently stands at about $4 per watt for full installation, more than twice as expensive as electricity from fossil fuels. Also, solar cells can operate only during daylight hours. In contrast, a coal or natural gas plant can run around the clock, which means the cost for building the plant can be spread over many more hours of use. Only when the solar cost comes down to about $1 per watt will large-scale adoption become a reality. Unfortunately that can take anywhere from 10-15 years, unless the urgency is translated into national policy.
The result? In 1999,
Still, nothing can justify the fact that solar energy currently provides less than 1% of
President Obama is determined to increase the renewable percentage through new and more efficient solar technologies. By 2012, clean energy must contribute 8% of the nation’s energy needs. So far, the administration is on target.
But change is coming. Americans are switching careers to become renewable energy entrepreneurs. In
As a consultant to Workforce, I have seen firsthand how the excellent solar curriculum and hands-on training have enabled some students to launch their own solar service businesses while others were snapped up by local solar companies.
The Nobel Peace-laureate and conservation icon Al Gore wrote that the time will soon come for "21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth."
No question about it: we must transform the solar challenge into clean energy opportunities for all.