As a conservation biologist, it’s difficult to keep from running around screaming, “The sky is falling.” Not only does that abuse my throat, it’s not at all productive. Besides, there are success stories associated with projects that could be emulated worldwide. Let’s shift gears and tout those for a change.
Amid our earth’s manmade landscapes—a veritable crazy quilt of sprawling urban centers punctuated by degraded swathes of natural resources—we’re also under the constant influence of our radiant sun. For many of us, that means gallons of sunblock and fabrics woven to keep our skin from flipping out and punishing us. Then there’s solar energy and I break into a happy dance. As Elon Musk said, “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the sun, you don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day.” So how’s that harnessing of the sun’s energy going?
In at risk Bangladesh, you’ll find Mohammed Rezwan’s nonprofit ‘Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’, which means self-reliance. You see, inundated Bangladesh is drowning with over a third of its landmass underwater each year. Rezwan’s floating and solar-powered fleet of schools, libraries, sustainable farms, and health clinics work to offset this loss of actual land. Solar photovoltaics (PV) power this vision. Brilliant on so many levels.
Other projects worldwide include concentrating solar power (CSP), often by transferring energy into steam. At this time, nineteen countries are committed to these forms of solar energy. The issue at hand? Connecting generating sources of solar power into a grid that delivers to urban centers. The usual suspects of fossils—er, fossil fuel tycoons—continue to make this more difficult than it needs to be.
Not listed as a member nation? Sweden. One of their most successful solar projects is Ripasso Energy with 32% solar-to-grid energy so far. And the Swedes just get better. Since 1970, this country’s renewable geothermal, wind, and solar use, including collaborative infrastructure along with rigorous building codes, have led to 90% less oil dependency, nearly 10% decreased CO2 output, and markedly reduced sulfur pollution. Woo-hoo!
So yes, let the sun shine down. The star at the center of our solar system still belongs to all. The lower cost of residential solar power has also adjusted into a more doable realm. Now it’s up to us to block insatiable oil magnates and their legislative minions from further taxing that, too.
Are you using solar power to rock your world? If not, do you plan to do so?