March 11, 2010

Solar Energy Could Provide 10% of U.S. Power

By 2030, solar power could meet as much as 10-percent of the need for electricity in America, claims a new report from a leading environmental advocacy group.

The report, Building a Solar Future: Repowering America's Homes, Businesses and Industry with Solar Energy, was presented on March 9, 2010 by Washington, D.C. based Environment America and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. According to a press release from the group, the study "examines a wide variety of solar technologies and tools, including photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, solar water heaters, solar space heating, and passive solar design" and "makes the case that there are many ways to take advantage of the sun's energy."

"The report finds that getting 10 percent of our energy from solar energy within two decades is equivalent to the energy that the U.S. currently produces at nuclear power plants, more than half the energy  currently consumed in American cars and light trucks, or nearly half as much energy as we currently obtain from burning coal," the press release continues. "Solar energy can play a major role in weaning the nation from dangerous, polluting, unstable and, in many cases, increasingly expensive forms of energy."

Sanders, who introduced legislation that would offer substantial rebates to firms that purchase and use solar power roof panels through 2019, praised the report's findings.

"At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence," the senator told reporters at a Tuesday press conference. "A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs."

In addition to discussing future possibilities, the Environment America report also praised the efforts of Wal-Mart, Frito-Lay, and the Boston Red Sox in cutting energy costs and reducing emissions through solar power. According to the advocacy group, Wal-Mart's use of have skylights has reduced the need for electric lighting by up to 20-percent, the Massachusetts-based Major League Baseball franchise is one of many businesses to switch to solar water heaters, and the snack-food manufacturer is currently using solar concentrators to help cook its products.


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