Are We using ALL Available Space to Generate Solar Power?

Solar power is no longer just a concept, it’s a bona fide solution to a growing energy crisis. The use of solar power, specifically roof-top solar power, has always been dependent on the home owner taking action; however, the potential to generate electricity using all available buildings has been increasing.

Increase in Rooftop Solar Potential

Due to more accurate rooftop surveys, there has been a significant increase in the potential for solar energy to meet growing electricity demand since 2008. For example, up to 29 States showed an increase of over 10%, which is representative of the additional electricity sales that could be met by using rooftop solar power.

Maximizing the use of available rooftops could be one of the fastest ways to harness solar power and decrease the average drain on the power grid. In several key States, namely, California, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut, it is estimated that well over 50% of energy needs could be met by using solar power on all available buildings, and that around two-thirds of all the States, could generate up to one-third of the electricity needs just through solar power alone


A private house using it's rooftop space for Solar panels

Utilizing All the Elements

It’s not just solar power that has the potential to generate a significant percentage of electricity, another untapped resource that would be even more significant in terms of energy generation would be wind power. A study performed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory showed that using on-shore wind turbines at 110-meter turbine hub heights would enable 35 States to generate over 100% of their electricity needs through wind. This forecast does not take into consideration the additional energy that could be harnessed from solar power or the additional energy that could be generated by off-shore wind farms.

The Cost of Renewable Energy

The cost of non-renewable energy is going to increase, that is a given, and it also goes without saying that anything “non-renewable”, will run out eventually.

Thus, important questions need to be asked that require discussion:

•Should the federal government be investing in long-term, large scale projects to harvest renewable energy like wind and solar power and distribute through the country, or should it remain a more individual form of self-reliance that is governed at a State level?

•Should communities that have higher levels of access to renewable energy sources be forced to foot the bill for other communities?


Final Thoughts

Storing energy carries a cost, but if States were better connected there would be less need for storage capacity. Transmission lines however have become somewhat of a sticking point with some landowners objecting to the use of their land to transport electricity to other parts of the country. The move from fossil fuels to renewable energy is becoming more urgent by each passing day, a path forward needs to be chosen, whether each State is expected to become responsible for finding a renewable energy source, or a federal solution is implemented that connects each State via infrastructure to ensure renewable energy for the entire country.

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