Debates about energy sources in the US can spark tug-of-war discussions. I’m sure almost all of us have been a part of one, at some point. Does the following sound familiar?
Environmentalist: “This country CAN and MUST commit to renewable energy before parts of our beautiful Florida become the next Atlantis. Plus what are we going to do with thousands of climate refugees?”
Renewable Doubter: “You’re funny. Renewables are expensive and not nearly as efficient. Keep dreaming. We will let governments figure it out.”
Renewable Energy Doubters may also point out that natural gas is not a renewable energy, but it is, or at least can, do a pretty Damn good job reducing this nation’s carbon footprint.
The Environmentalist will then point out that the methane produced by natural gas, and of course the health concerns posed by extracting it through processes like Fracking, make it an ugly distraction from renewable energy.
But the Renewable Energy Doubter will probably still just brush this off (since they probably have some economic connection to the booming Natural Gas industry) and retort that none of the claims against Natural Gas are proven.
What are both of these arguments missing (if I had not included some helpful hyperlinks?) FACTS! Cold, hard, you-could-include-in-your-thesis TRUTHS.
So I would like to give you an edge up — because I am sick of this argument myself, I am starting a Tuesday series in this blog that will be written like a guide to help you in “Dealing with Renewable Energy Deniers.”
For this fist sequence, I am going to shine some light on my favorite energy source that also seems to have one of the brightest futures of all renewables (and probably the most corny puns to describe it):
1. How to address the “solar sucks” compared to other sources perspective.
Well, if you still have this point of view, I hope you have the excuse of just emerging from under Patrick Star’s rock in Bikini Bottom.
In all fairness, solar had a shaky year in 2011 (when I will admit, I still occasionally watched he who “lives in a pineapple under the sea”). The solar panel company Solyndra, backed by the Obama administration, “defaulted on a $535 million loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy” according to NPR.
But for the past two years, solar energy development has been breaking records — This year especially. Here is a fact you can throw at a Doubter:
1. It can be political common-ground: This is true mainly in Florida where it could soon help keep the only ground from becoming ocean floor. NPR reports Tea-party members in Florida are publicly and actively supporting Floridians for Solar Choice, a ballot initiative working to change the law in Florida so that people and businesses will be allowed to generate and sell solar power.
2. It IS growing economically: We have all heard that the Natural Gas Boom is creating jobs, but did you know that the solar energy sector now has more employees than Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter combined? Did I mention solar beat coal for the second year in a row by accounting for one-third of our nation’s new energy generating capacity in 2014.
Wait, there’s more…
• This month, Apple invested $850 million in First Solar’s soon-to-be-built 2,900-acre solar farm in California — I mean, that may be pocket-change for Apple, however Joe Kishkill, the chief commercial officer for First Solar, stated in a press release:
“Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California.”
3. It COULD stand a chance with Natural Gas: I bet I know what you are thinking — “That last source came from an author who is the CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).”
Alas, this is true — but he also served as the vice president for the Natural Gas Supply Association. The fact that he made the switch I think is saying something. But don’t worry — here are some more mind-blowing facts:
• According to a recent Renewable Energy World report, renewables slightly beat out natural gas in new generation for 2014 (at 49.81% compared with 48.65%). Photovoltaic and solar thermal together accounted for 20.4%.
So here I will conclude this first segment in responding to those pessimists who claim Renewable Energy is not worth the hype. Hope to have helped prove it is, or at least certainly can be — if we choose to believe and support it!