DID YOU KNOW... The United States receives more energy in the form of sunlight
in less than 40 minutes than from all the fossil fuels we burn every year? Source:
Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation
1. MYTH: Solar energy and solar designs work well only in warm, sunny climates.
REALITY: Solar technologies and passive solar design can work efficiently and cost-effectively
anywhere in the United States, even in cloudy communities. Solar energy electrifies
message signs and flashing arrow boards on roadways in every state in the country.
Solar water heating systems are providing hot water economically for a swimming pool
in Aurora, Colorado, and a Transportation Agency building in Boston. Solar energy
pre-heats ventilation air in Fort Carson, Colorado and Ontario, Canada. A dozen small
lighthouses off the New England coast run on solar power while large lighthouses
are being converted to solar power off the shores of Washington State and lower Alaska.
Passive solar design illuminates a nonprofit health facility in Frederick, Maryland
- an area that receives 25 percent less sunshine than the national average. Energy
storage systems make solar technologies in less sunny regions possible. Some photovoltaic
systems store electricity in batteries so that energy can be retrieved later - even
after up to 30 consecutive days without sunlight. Solar water heating systems typically
are linked with conventional backup heaters which need to be fired up only during
periods of cloudiness or excessive demand.
2. MYTH: Solar power is too costly. REALITY: There are hundreds of situations
where solar is the least expensive method for delivering power. Each solar power
example in this issue is saving money over its life-cycle. Many solar outdoor lighting
applications are immediately less expensive than grid-connected systems because they
avoid costly pavement cutting and repair.
3. MYTH: Solar power is not as reliable as conventional energy technologies. REALITY:
Solar is often more reliable than any other energy source. The National Renewable
Energy Laboratory has found photovoltaics to be "the most reliable source of
electric power ever invented." According to the Solar Energy Industries Association,
surveys taken over the last decade what that over 94 percent of solar water heating
owners consider their solar heater to be a wise investment. The main reason for solar's
superior reliability is that as a decentralized power source, it is not subject to
power blackouts or breaks in a system network. Because it is highly reliable, solar
technologies are used to power warning signals, navigational buoys, aircraft warning
lights and railroad crossing signals.
4. MYTH: Solar power is not practical in urban areas. REALITY: Solar-powered lights
eliminate the need to trench underground and dig up asphalt; thus, they are cost-effective
alternatives to grid connections in many urban settings. Solar water heating is usually
an economical replacement for electric heaters in any urban setting. Solar ventilation
air pre- heaters are as often found in urban settings as well as remote locations.
Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.