Energy - Solar Power

With growing global awareness of the damage being done to our ecosystem, alternative sources of energy are gaining more and more attention. One of the most abundant forms of natural energy is solar power. More and more people and businesses are showing interest in exploring the possibilities of harnessing solar power. Recently, a major California utility company has hopped on the solar bandwagon, and they are launching a new initiative that will very likely stimulate the awareness and growth of solar power.

As part of the new project, Southern California Edison is planning to implement 250 megawatts’ worth of solar power, which is enough energy to power roughly 162,000 homes. They will achieve this by installing two square miles of solar cells on the roofs of various businesses.

This is a big move for the utility industry, one that could potentially lower the cost of solar cells as demand increases. They aim to install one megawatt per week of arrays until the goal of 250 is reached. That number surpasses the total number of solar cells produced in the entire year of 2006 by the United States, and it is enough to generate the same amount of electricity as a smaller sized coal-fired power plant, with the huge added bonus of zero greenhouse gas emissions.

This $875 million venture will mark the first time a major utility enters into the realm of “distributed energy”. As opposed to building a traditional centralized power station along with the costly transmission system that is required in order to transmit electricity to the grid, SCE will instead merge the solar array clusters into pre-existing neighborhood circuits.

To accomplish all of this, SCE will lease the rooftop space from Riverside and San Bernardino building owners, and the utility will then outsource the initial installation. The utility will still retain ownership of all the solar cells.

Every year, the sun generates over 10,000 times the amount of energy that we use here on Earth. The use of solar power offers several advantages, mainly due to the fact that solar power panels generate zero CO2 emissions. At the present time, the implementation of solar power is considered by many to be too expensive, compared to traditional energy sources such as coal. The main reason it is so difficult to switch to a system based on renewable energy is because we are currently so dependent on the use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels create vast amounts of CO2 emissions, which contribute greatly to the problem of global warming. However, as concerns about global warming and the negative impacts of fossil fuel use become more widespread, more funding is becoming available to research and develop alternative energy sources, such as solar power.

The more people that become aware of the numerous benefits of solar power, the more demand there will be, thus the more money that governments and businesses worldwide will be willing to spend to help make it a practical and attainable solution.