California is the Top Solar State

Published On September 19, 2013 | Green Tech

It was the middle of the 19th century when the people of California first said “Eureka!” Gold was discovered and ordinary people were accumulating extraordinary wealth thanks to the precious metal found in abundance in America’s 31st state.

Now, more than 150 years later, they are shouting “Eureka!” once again, but for a different kind of gold: Sunshine. Prosperity reigns again because the sun shines down in such abundance, thereby making the Golden State the leading solar state in the United States.

What is Solar Power?

According to Wikipedia, “Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP).” In other words, solar power is energy derived from sunshine, which is in great supply in California, especially the Mojave Desert.

Why California?

Considering the plentiful sunshine along with the state’s conservation mandates and strong environmental movement, it is understandable why California’s per capita energy use is actually one of the nation’s smallest despite being the most populous state. The California Solar Initiative, for example, is a $3.3 billion, 10-year program that will help California maintain its position as the leading producer of solar technologies in the United States, as well as one of the largest solar markets in the world, according to CleanTechnica.

With some of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the country, you might say California sets the gold-standard for solar power with a target to acquire a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Joining California on the list of top solar states, not surprisingly, are Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, according to consultancy Ernst & Young’s biannual renewable energy attractiveness indices, with the latter making the list for the first time. Alaska, on the other hand, known both for Northern Lights and sunless days, ranks routinely near the bottom.

Too Good to Last?

It is true that the sun will eventually burn out, and that it has already used up about half of its hydrogen fuel. It is also true that it still has enough hydrogen fuel for approximately 5 billion more years. In other words, yes, it will last, longer than all other energy sources combined.

Solar power is more than a trend; it is a national initiative considered cleaner, longer lasting, and more environmentally friendly than traditional energy sources like oil. And if the cost seems prohibitive, the United States Department of Energy aims to reduce the cost of solar power by 75 percent by 2020, with their SunShot Initiative.

Making solar power more affordable will benefit both your wallet and the earth, which may be why solar power is being incorporated into everything from air conditioning and radios to cars, boats, and “solar ponds” which are pools of saltwater that collect and store solar thermal energy.

Bottom line: If solar power is the future, the future is now, and that is not just California dreaming.

– By Tim Alan

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