Solar Energy Is The Mother Lode

April 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Clean Power
solar-energy-potential

Published on April 1st, 2014
by Zachary Shahan

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Originally published on Cost of Solar*.

Where does the energy we need, animals need, and plants need come from? Largely, it just comes from the sun. Plants use solar energy to grow and develop, and animals and humans then get that energy from plants. It’s an amazing thing that we generally don’t give much thought to.

Interestingly, a similar thing we don’t give much attention to is that the fuel we use to create electricity and to power our vehicles also essentially comes from the same source. Fossilized remains of plants and animals are burnt in order to create our electricity and move our cars and planes forward.

Does all this get you thinking? It certainly got me thinking….

When it comes to energy, the bottom line is, solar energy is the mother lode. The sun is the mother of our gigantic energy supplies. Many people who have reflected on this have seen that solar energy is the most promising source of energy in the long term (and, increasingly, in the medium and short term). As a 1931 quotation from Thomas Edison on the bottom of this website states, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Edison, we have probably waited quite a bit too long. But at least we are getting to it now!

Join the US solar power rooftop revolution!

Solar Energy Potential vs Energy Potential From Other Renewables Fossil Fuels

Beyond general reflection, check out this fascinating chart below regarding the potential of solar energy compared to other commons sources of energy. But before doing so, pay attention to this very important note: solar energy potential and energy potential shown for the other renewable energy resources is annual potential, while the energy potential shown for the fossil fuel resources is total recoverable reserves.

solar energy potential Its Time To Do The ObviousSource: Perez Perez, 2009a

Yep, solar energy really is the mother lode.

So, the question is, what have we been waiting for? Well, we had to develop a technology that could efficiently and cost-effectively capture that solar energy and turn it into electricity. Luckily, we’ve now been able to develop such technology, and solar panels are so ridiculously cheap now (after years of rapid cost drops) that the average American who goes solar now saves over $20,000 over 20 years from doing so.

Perhaps it’s time to do the obvious and put your money on solar energy… just as Thomas Edison would have done if he were alive today. At the very least, get a quote in order to see how much you could save by going solar today.

*Full Disclosure: CleanTechnica and Cost of Solar have a financial relationship. That said, CleanTechnica doesn’t get anything in return (no additional revenue) from republishing this article.

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.


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  • Solar is the Big Kahuna!!!

  • What’s a motherload? Mother lode?

    • urban dictionary: “jackpot, big winnings or big findings”

      • Urban Dictionary is not a real dictionary. It’s a place where semiliterate people explain and justify their errors. The headline should read Mother Lode – an archaic gold mining reference. It should more correctly not contain archaisms.

    • Woops, thanks.

  • Zach, have you or anyone else you know produced a format that demonstrates rates of return on a solar investment by locale so that people can compare an investment in this vs their other alternatives? I recognize that it can only be an approximation due to local specificity, but at least it can provide an apples to apples view. Thanks.

  • Zachary, totally agree.
    and more important, Solar is on my roof, not far away, and on my neighbours roof.
    In the Netherlands and when I go to Germany, not far, there is Solar on the roofs.
    Sun is everywhere, Solar is everywhere to produce local income.

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