A Different Perspective on “Solar Power”

Feb 22, 2017 9:30 AM ET

By one definition, the United States generated 79.9% of its electricity from solar power in 2015. Should we be celebrating that fact? Not really.


One of the reasons I love mathematics is because it has right answers, represented by the humble equals sign. No matter the problem, it equals something specific and provable, and I can solve it if I just think hard enough. I can find not only an answer, but the answer.

Alas, life doesn’t operate like mathematics (which is actually a good thing). Many questions that we confront, ranging from of utmost importance to trivial, have multiple answers, murky answers, and at times no answer at all. Uncertainty pervades our very existence.

So it is with a question I was pondering this morning: What percentage of electricity generated in the United States is solar powered? The answer depends on how you define “solar powered.”

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Valerie Bennett
Ray C. Anderson Foundation
+1 (770) 317-5858