15 October 2010

Survey reveals vast majority of American citizens want solar power fast-tracked

Fueling our global economy while sustaining our modern day lifestyle requires one highly coveted resource – energy. In the United States, we’ve long favored mainstream options such as natural gas, coal and oil which, while organically-based, have unfortunately been responsible for generating countless tons of atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases that accelerate the effects of global warming.

As a dominant world power, America has barely scratched the surface of solar technology, generating less than 1% of its current electricity needs with clean green sun power. If you consider the fact that the glowing star we owe our existence to radiates more energy every 60 minutes than what our civilization consumes in 365 days, it would behoove the U.S. to get with the program by fast-tracking this technology.

Germany generates four times as much solar energy as America (which, given its tiny size, is rather remarkable), and even China – the world’s second largest energy user – continues pursuing aggressive solar goals thanks to their recently passed Renewable Energy Law.

So, what’s the hold up in the United States?
  • Solar power is generally 2 – 3 times more expensive than fossil fuel-derived energy (although new technological advances such as flexible plastic solar cells could significantly drive down the cost).
  • It takes roughly 8 – 10 years for homeowners who spring for a solar array to break even on their investment (depending on available credits and incentives).
  • Old school photovoltaic arrays, which are definitely NOT easy on the eyes, have naturally made homeowners hesitant to embrace the technology due to aesthetic concerns. (It’s worth noting, however, that new technologies and installation methods are far more streamlined and able to blend in with architecture.)
  • Consumers fail to focus on the benefit that solar technology can yield to the overall health of our planet, instead thinking exclusively about the financial return on their investment.
  • Most importantly, many are under the illusion that fossil fuels are unlimited and easily accessible.
Despite these roadblocks to mainstream solar acceptance, a national survey revealed that for the third year in a row, a whopping 94% of U.S. citizens enthusiastically support the development of this green energy technology, with 80% feeling “that Congress should reallocate federal subsidies away from fossil fuel towards renewable energy industries.” What's your position?

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
A dedicated green journalist and currently commissioned to write a comprehensive reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah Leigh hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/waynenf