Economics, rather than technological concerns, are now driving the adoption of clean, safe, solar electricity to preserve the environment. During this transition to a new energy paradigm, we can choose to embrace the solar imperative now, rather than later, and prepare for a post-carbon lifestyle without sacrificing our present quality of life.
Many hurdles have been overcome in the shift away from fossil fuels during the past two decades. Challenges still exist, but the hope is that we are on our way toward a brighter future with solar electricity made universally available.
- The cost of solar photovoltaics has dropped 75 percent in the past four years, thanks to China.
- Solar electricity is now the least expensive energy source in many markets, overcoming for the first time the economic argument that it’s too expensive.
- Innovative partnerships like that formed by green energy provider Viridian with large, full-service solar provider SolarCity lease solar panels to homeowners and businesses that significantly reduce upfront costs. Installation costs, which once averaged more than $20,000, can now amount to just hundreds of dollars.
- Solar is disrupting the century-old central power generation model, and the challenge is to get the utility industry to change and adopt distributed solar. Utility companies that previously ignored solar energy now fear it might threaten their bottom line if they don’t get with the program.
- While the next big obstacle is energy storage, which allows the use of sun power at night, well-financed new “smart grid” technologies are rapidly emerging.
- The impending showdown will be between corporate power and people power, comprised of homeowners and businesses producing their own electricity. The politics of energy is central to our national future. The question is, Can we change?