Its 2009, who would really be against solar energy in this day and age? Would you believe me if I told you some environmentalists? Really? With climate change and global warming headlines blaring across headlines, you might find it hard to believe that solar power is not necessarily popular among greenies.
Just a few months ago, a startling report was published in the New York Times. It revealed the fact that, even though solar power is quiet, clean and renewable, some people are opposed to solar panels:
“The opposition is particularly strong in Southern California. Aside from abundant sunshine and virtually cloudless skies, the California desert has altitude, so there is less atmospheric interference for the sun’s rays, as well as broad swaths of level land for installing equipment, and proximity to large, electricity-hungry cities.”
The reasons for concerns are myriad. But among them include concerns regarding the installations of solar panels in areas where people and wildlife live. When panels are installed on the ground (as opposed to on rooftops), they may take up a lot of area. Some people find the installations aesthetically displeasing. Others worry about disrupting migration routes, or even upsetting animals that live where solar panels are envisioned.
The Bureau of Land Management considers many applications for solar panels on its lands. In fact, among the currently proposed projects land totaling nearly 80,000 acres of land near Joshua Tree National Park would be covered. What would this mean to me and you?
Recently, the total number of applications across the nation have increased. The so-called flood of new solar projects not only caught governmental agencies off-guard, but also environmentalists:
“For the entire United States, the total number of applications is far greater, growing from zero less than two years ago to more than 125 projects with a combined electrical potential of 70,000 megawatts, the equivalent of the electrical capacity of about 70 large coal-fired power.”plants.”
One of the reasons why environmentalists are so concerned about solar installations in California is that there is a new law in that state that calls for 20% of its energy to come from renewable resources by 2010. That gives the state just one year to build up its resources, and has resulted in a flood of new solar energy proposals. The time pressure and land requirements are one thing, water resources are another:
“In addition to obstructing views and disrupting habitats, large solar power projects take a toll on the desert’s scarce water supply, environmentalists like Mr. Harvey said. Mirrors and solar panels have to be washed, and some solar projects incorporate steam turbines, which require even more water.”
In addition to water concerns are issues related to chemicals that inhibit plant growth so as to prevent the blockage of solar panels. If back-up generators are employed, concerns about fossil fuels are raised.
As many benefits as there regarding solar energy, there are naysayers who question whether its worth the investment and time. Read both sides and know that there is no perfect answer for our electrical demands these days. For every list of negatives, you can find a number of positives, too. Weigh the evidence and make up your own mind.
Still, I am curious. Raise your hand if you’re against solar energy, or if you are for it!