Thursday, November 19, 2009

Solar roofs for everyone

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 4:53 PM

OK, maybe not everyone -- but Environment North Carolina would like to see a lot of solar panels installed in our state. Plus, they say Mecklenburg County is a great place to get started with their solar aspirations. Oh, and make it snappy.

The big snag, as always, is money. Though, if the state -- and especially Charlotte -- wants to become an alternative energy leader, I'm sure they'll find a way to step up supply -- which will lead to lower prices -- to meet rising demand.

An environmental advocacy group that says North Carolina's greenhouse gas emissions are rising proposes a solution: Putting solar panels on nearly 700,000 rooftops.

Environment North Carolina, in a report to be issued today, says that based on current solar energy development in the state, the sun could supply at least 14 percent of the state's energy needs in two decades.

The group's report identifies Wake and Mecklenburg counties as having the greatest number of rooftops suitable for solar panels.

The goal set out by Environment North Carolina would require the state to develop 13,900 megawatts of solar energy, which would make this state nearly equivalent to the 14,730 megawatts of solar energy currently available worldwide.

Megawatt for megawatt, solar power is the most expensive form of electricity today, but green energy advocates say planning can't be based on current costs.

"The cost of solar power is coming down, while the cost of dirty energy is going up," said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director for Environment North Carolina. "In the not-too-distant future, the cost of solar will be cheaper than building a new coal-fired power plant."

The solar report comes a day after the group released a study saying North Carolina's greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere have risen 39 percent from 1990 to 2007. The data come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's "State Energy Consumption, Price and Expenditure Estimates."

The rise in emissions is caused by more cars on the road burning more fuel, and more electricity being generated by the state's 45 coal-burning units.

Read the entire Raleigh News and Observer article here.

Further reading:

"You know what a green economy is? It's jobs and opportunity."

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