Solar Power: Why Hasn't its Potential been Harnessed?

Time to Harness Energy of the Sun

Politicians, the media, and others highlight, and rightfully so, the need for the U.S. to go green.  After all, the current course of using fossil fuels is unsustainable due to their inexhaustible nature along with their detrimental impacts to the environment. So, naturally the solution to displacing fossil fuels would be to look at renewable and alternative sources. There are a plethora of renewable energy sources from which to choose, but the main obstacle to getting them on the market on a large scale seems to be their relatively high cost of production. Yet one renewable source that has been mentioned, but not really been harnessed much is solar power. Throughout this past summer and even during non-summer months, there has been a lot of sun. Yet, it seems the rhetoric about harnessing solar power never goes beyond that to something tangible like policies that actually increase solar energy production.

The reason for why solar power has not received much attention may be due to: “Historically, electric utilities have not taken a lead in solar development, but instead taken a variety of positions ranging from minor interest to avoidance and hostility.” Clearly, if electrical utilities have all but ignored solar power and its tremendous benefits than there will be less publicity for it and action in the policy realm. It is clear that electrical utilities for quite some time have embraced fossil fuels for quite some time due to the fact that they have been around for quite some time and are used to harnessing these sources. Something new like solar power will definitely take some getting adjusted to in terms of how to produce and harness it on a large scale.

However, solar power is becoming more and more popular since energy from the sun is one of the cleanest and carries very few hazards like wind turbines which may kill migratory birds. Solar power might be the new source to replace fossil fuels since some utilities in the U.S. such as “Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison have announced gigawatts of solar electricity deployment in the next 3 to 6 years.” As a result, it is no longer a debate about whether solar power has the capability to replace fossil fuels as much as when that is likely to happen. At least for some parts of the U.S. where it is sunny year round, solar power is likely to come fairly quickly it appears.

In summary, solar power can be harnessed if utility companies make a commitment to invest in its potential. Clearly Pacific Gas and Electric is leading the way in this regard. Hopefully, other parts of the country can figure out how to harness the energy of the sun. It is one of the most environmentally friendly sources the U.S. can invest in.

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