Surely the “…moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars” because we are ready to let the sunshine in! When the 5th Dimension sang those words in 1969, who knew they were prognosticating? Yes…letting the sunshine in can enhance natural lighting, lower energy costs, and save the world from dark doom! Okay, maybe the last one is a bit of an overstatement. However, the sun is expected to shine for at least another 6 billion years. Therefore, long before mankind is living on the Planet SaveMe (yet to be discovered) in another galaxy, it makes sense to harness solar power while enjoying the sunny days.
Make Me a Believer
President Obama is a believer in letting the sunshine in. “Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced,” Obama said during his 2014 State of the Union address. He pointed out that the U.S. is “…becoming a global leader in solar…” Did you know that President Obama had American made solar panels added to the White House as part of an energy retrofit project in August 2013? He wants to set an example and prove that historic buildings can achieve energy savings through the use of solar energy. The estimate is that the cost of the project will be recovered within eight years due to increased energy efficiency.
It is not just the U.S. that wants to capture the power of the sun. The DESERTEC Concept is the brainchild of scientists, politicians, and economics from the Mediterranean region. This remarkable Concept involves harnessing the energy from sun-rich deserts and storing it in heat storage tanks. Solar-thermal power plants can then supply electrical as needed, working in conjunction with photovoltaic and wind systems in a variable energy system. Ultimately, the plan is to connect Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to the system via High-Voltage Direct Current transmission lines capable of minimizing transmission energy losses. The giant solar power hub would be located in the Sahara. Though a pipedream of people who really did initially appear to be lost in the Age of Aquarius, European corporations are now injecting enormous amounts of cash to turn the DESERTEC Concept into a real-world project.
7 Billion is a LOT of People
Solar energy is available in unlimited supply and obtaining it does not require damaging the environment with various resource extraction methods. By the time the sun burns out in 6 billion years, there is likely to be a whole new kind of energy source that even out-of-the-box thinkers cannot imagine in their wildest dreams. People could be living in a different galaxy with a different sun. In the meantime, it is important to stay focused on the problem at hand – the need for clean, renewable, and affordable energy to supply the 7 billion people living on earth right now.
There is great news for the naysayers who like the idea of solar energy and green building, but not the cost. More and more studies are proving that there is a business case for building green and producing green energy. For example, Goldman Sachs says that sustainable companies with social and good governance policies are experiencing a 25 percent higher stock value than companies that do not have these characteristics.
Dozens of studies conducted by academics and business consultants back up the assertion. Green buildings are more resource, energy
and operationally efficient, but they also improve worker productivity, improve brand image, lead to increased access to new markets and technologies, and so on. Many customers today are choosing to do business with companies that practice environmental sustainability and social responsibility. To these customers, it does matter how the products were produced and the impact the business has on the environment.
Peace and Harmony
While we wait for the day when “…peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars…”, time is well spent learning about solar energy. The Green Building Research Institute wants to help bring “harmony and understanding” to solar energy and so developed a set of solar training modules to help each professional sector likely to be involved in the application of solar technology and the installation of solar systems. There is a Solar for Starters, Solar for Homeowners, Solar for Investors, Solar for Sales, Solar for Installers, Solar for Project Managers, and Solar for Designers – Architects and Engineers. All modules are found at https://www.gbrionline.org/learning-hub/.