Saturday, May 19, 2007

Solar energy

I've been a fan of solar energy since I was a kid. When my Dad gave me a solar calculator back in the 70s, I honestly thought that by the time I had my own kids, the world would be using mostly solar energy for most of its power consumption. I guessed wrong. I would have thought that 30 years would be enough time to do the research into making solar power viable and affordable for everyone to use.

The good news is maybe that could still happen in my lifetime. I saw this article earlier today about how the Amish community have adopted solar enery for their needs and I find it interesting that they're in some ways more forward looking than most of the world when it comes to energy.

Amish in Southern Md. find solar power plain practical

The main barrier today is cost. But one company is trying to change that (Selling Homeowners a Solar Dream). They're just in the launch phase and time will tell if their plan is viable.

One country that is successfully pursuing a long term approach to solar energy is Germany (Cloudy Germany a Powerhouse in Solar Energy). Solar panels have become commonplace in new German homes and a great wall of solar panels line the autobahn. Today they are the biggest producers not only of solar energy but also wind energy. Their goal is by 2020, at least a quarter of their energy use will be from renewable sources of energy. The German government has also decided to close down all their nuclear power plants by 2020.

All of this sounds exciting and promising. If we can only see as much advancement in renewable energy in the next 30 years as we have seen in the computer industry the past 30 years , think about what could be possible.

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