Solar energy is improving business, sustainability and daily life in all parts of the world
Abundant opportunities exist today for solar energy. As an industry, solar energy provides exciting prospects for innovation and improved technologies, expanding business throughout the world and job growth possibilities. For the environment, increasing the world’s use of solar energy lessens our dependence on fossil fuels and impact on the earth and improves environmental preservation. For people using solar energy, the technology has the potential to change lives by enabling individuals and communities to be cleaner, safer and more sustainable.
Solar manufacturing is expanding — solar energy panels are now produced all over the world using innovative and efficient processes. An obvious and critical benefit of increased demand for production is the subsequent job market for engineers, designers and installers. The growth of the solar industry is a chance to educate and train a new generation of skilled workers in an industry that will have a positive long-term impact on society.
The ongoing advances in the solar industry have resulted in programs and services to promote investments in solar energy systems. Homeowners who install residential solar energy systems and owners and operators of large commercial solar energy installations benefit from a range of financing assistance available, including tax breaks, rebates, incentives, and grant programs. A solar energy system is a significant initial investment but one that has the potential to offset rising energy costs for years to come.
As home and commercial owners consider solar electricity as a viable source of clean energy, there is now more information available than ever before to help investors and consumers make informed decisions regarding solar energy system performance. Third-party organizations such as Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) (1), a government-funded public exhibition of solar installations, monitors overall system performance for a variety of solar module manufacturers on an even playing field. TUV Rheinland is another independent organization that performs testing to evaluate quality and durability of solar modules in different performance conditions. Assessments like these are an excellent way to demonstrate the potential of solar energy and offer unbiased data to prospective investors or consumers, as well as track output and longevity (For more information please visit www.dkasolarcentre.com.au and http://www.tuv.com/en/corporate/home_2.jsp.).
With visible international efforts to increase the progress and use of renewable energy, government organizations are playing a significant role in expanding solar electricity. In the United States, the Department of Defense has developed its first Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, outlining comprehensive goals and steps to increase sustainability across facilities and operations. A recent 1.4 megawatt (MW) solar electric system installation on the United States Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton attests to the military’s commitment to increasing its clean energy capacity. In Japan, as part of a broad government initiative to improve the nation’s academic facilities, Kyocera supplied solar modules to more than 1,200 sites to expand the use of solar energy at elementary, middle and high schools, with an eventual target of 12,000 photovoltaic systems from various manufacturers in public schools. Academic institutions are proving to be a growing market for solar installations that provide incredible opportunity. Students from all corners of the globe, including Australia, Wales, Tanzania and the United States are more frequently finding their classrooms powered by solar energy — we see examples of schools finding creative solutions to reducing utility usage and costs by working with grant funding, government subsidies or power purchase agreement (PPA) providers to help offset the cost of a system installation while saving on energy expenses for years to come.
Perhaps most importantly, solar energy is a technology that has the potential to truly change the world. While decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels, solar-energy has the ability to give individuals and communities new opportunities and alter their way of living. In Mongolia, for example, a 305 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system comprised of Kyocera high-efficiency modules, among the largest stand-alone solar power systems in the world, provides electricity for two villages, allowing residents to have the modern conveniences that off-grid electricity provides while maintaining environmental preservation. Photovoltaic systems installed in rural areas of Asia and Africa present similar results for residents; the electricity provides facilities that many of us take for granted — children can now study by light at night, clean drinking water is more easily acquired and the systems offer reliability not previously available in some of the harshest climates in the world.
The solar energy industry and we as consumers have the opportunity, and responsibility, to promote the increased development and use of solar energy. With the innumerable benefits renewable energy provides, the future is certainly bright.
Written by Michael Ludgate, Kyocera Solar, Inc.
Michael Ludgate directs business development and marketing for Kyocera Solar, Inc., an innovative leader in the solar industry with a 35-year history of providing clean, sustainable energy solutions to both developed and developing regions.
Tags: Department of Defense, Desert Knowledge Australia, fossil fuels, Kyocera Solar Inc, Michael Ludgate, photovoltaic systems, solar energy panels, solar energy systems, solar manufacturing, Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, TUV Rheinland