Solar power offers potential for Delmarva

June 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Since at least the 1970s, the idea of solar power has been a dream for many Americans who appreciate the vast power of the sun’s rays and the painful limitations of some existing forms of energy.

Back then, when an appreciation of the fragility of the Earth’s environment came fully into focus, it was eminently clear that burning coal and consuming oil at high levels wasn’t sustainable for either the air we breathe or for the amount of natural resources beneath the ground. And that was long before the term “climate change” had us worrying about melting ice caps and rising oceans.

Problem was, solar power always seemed to produce less power than wanted at a higher cost. A solar panel might be one of the most ingenious inventions in human history, but it’s been pretty darned expensive for some time.

Fast forward to 2014, when Lower Shore Enterprises of Salisbury has become the first local nonprofit to purchase power from a solar power system built on its own property, as The Times’ Jeremy Cox reported last week. Deals such as this are a clear sign that solar power is beginning to come of age. Among the main reasons: a growing consensus that burning carbon-based fossil fuels is detrimental to the world’s climate and innovation that has cut the cost of a solar panel considerably.

This is why you see more solar panels on buildings and in fields than a decade ago. This is why private firms are investing more and governments, businesses and other organizations are examining the possibilities of buying solar power.

Supporters of solar power argue that not only is this third-party-owned-system approach to energy production sound, but it can be more financially manageable and less risky than other forms of power. Critics, however, worry what happens if the solar power doesn’t meet 100 percent of the requirements for electricity needed.

But those who fear change must acknowledge that all new technologies have their cons as well as their pros. The smartphones many of us can’t do without today are a far cry from the very first car phones of 30 years ago, which were as big and clunky as land-line phones at the time. But repeated innovation ultimately yielded the iPhone and Droid phones.

Solar power, with more use and innovation, may go down the same route. Much like wind power, it won’t become the world’s dominant energy source. But every percentage of energy consumption that doesn’t come from fossil fuels is a positive step toward giving America a mixed portfolio of energy sources.

IN SUMMATION

Solar power may not be a panacea, but its continued development here and elsewhere can help make for a more varied energy picture in the future.

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