The solar energy report, “Building a Solar Future: Repowering America’s Homes, Businesses and Industry with Solar Energy,” was released recently, which outlines a plan for using solar power to meet 10% of the United States’ total energy needs by 2030. The report explains how solar energy can be incorporated into our homes, businesses, farms, and neighborhoods, while also detailing the role solar can play in energy security and the reduction of environmental pollution. “The sun provides more energy in an hour than all the coal mines and oil wells do in a year,” said Bret Fanshaw of Environment Arizona. “This solar energy is limitless and pollution free. America can and must figure out how to tap the heat and power of the sun. Solar power is also increasingly cost competitive with older, dirtier sources of energy.”
According to Gabrielle Giffords, one of Congress’ leading solar proponents, “This report shows the possibilities of solar energy and how solar is an achievable path to our energy security. We still have work to do before solar energy can make up a large percentage of America’s energy needs, but we are moving in the right direction.”
The report also identifies obstacles to wider use of solar in the U.S. and discusses a combination of policies that could allow solar to meet 10% of America’s energy needs. According to Environment America, Arizona, with 300 days of sunshine each year, has the largest capacity of any state for solar energy. However, less than 3% of the energy used in the state comes from the sun. The majority – roughly 90% – comes from burning coal, oil and natural gas.
Despite this fact, there are many examples of solar taking big steps in Arizona. In 2007, Tucson was selected as a Solar America City and currently has around 1.1 megawatts of solar power on City of Tucson buildings – including the 120 panels at the Clements Recreation Center. This site alone reduces approximately 9.1 tons of CO2 each year.
Environment Arizona called on local, state and federal governments to remove the barriers currently impeding the spread of solar energy. This can be accomplished by investing in solar and adopting strong policies to make solar energy an important part of America’s energy future. Such policies include financial incentives, advanced building codes, public education, workforce development, research and development, and a strong renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to get a percentage of their electricity from renewable energy, like solar.
“Americans today need barrels of oil from a desert half a world away, in the most unsettled and dangerous region of the earth, just to power a trip to the grocery store in Tucson,” said Fanshaw. “How much easier and more secure would it be to harness the heat and light that strike our rooftops every day?”