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Progress on the solar energy front

“It’s not just the White House that’s going solar” was the news from that source as the Energy Secretary viewed the newly (re-) installed solar panels on the roof of the presidential mansion, five months ago.
Amid an Arab oil embargo in 1979, in a move to spur greater U.S. energy self sufficiency, the then White House occupant also had solar collectors installed.
Doing so, President Jimmy Carter suggested that harnessing the power of the sun could become “one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”
In prescient words, he acknowledged that it might also become “an example of a road not taken.”
His successor, President Ronald Reagan, ordered the panels removed; after that, the U.S. lagged other industrialized countries in adopting solar and developing renewable-energy supply systems.
But now, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, this is rapidly changing.
Its new report, “Solar power on the rise,” notes the industry’s remarkable growth as Americans respond to drastically lower cost of solar installations, technology advances and the great benefits of solar power as clean, safe and climate friendly source of electricity.
President Obama has noted that a new American home or business “goes solar every four minutes.”
On the global scene in 2013, the United States surpassed even Germany in new installations, that country having been the industry leader thus far, according to Bloomberg Business News.
The UCS report provides a wealth of detail about the booming solar energy sector in the U.S., such as 485 percent growth over the last three years and its nearly half-million, already installed systems producing enough power for 2.4 million typical U.S. households.
The industry is investing almost $25 billion in the U.S. economy annually and 6,000 solar companies, spread across all 50 states, employed more than 140,000 people in 2013.
With an abundance of sunshine for PV generation countrywide, solar power is viable and increasingly affordable throughout the United States.
Even now in 10 states, the report indicates rooftop solar power to be as cheap as grid-supplied electricity; it projects that similar price equality could be the norm in more than half the states by 2017.
The experience reported from Teterow, our German Sister City near the Baltic Sea, supports this positive projection. Situated 20 latitudes farther north and with much less sunshine for PV generation than available in the U.S., city leaders there often found solar energy costs to compare favorably with electricity from the local utility.
America seems on the march toward the “exciting adventure” Jimmy Carter hoped for – an electric energy future with no fuel costs, no foreign embargoes or risks of fuel price spikes, no mountains leveled for coal, no lethal waste to threaten the living world and future children, and no global warming pollution.
The corporate interests vested in continuation of the pollution, now fighting renewable-energy expansion at many fronts, should accept the free market principles under which American citizens, too, are free to develop a new, 21st century energy system of their choice