Go Solar … Go Green
The main message of today’s program is that we all, individually and collectively, must do whatever we can to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand. These are necessary, even admirable, goals. But they don’t go far enough. We must also develop clean, non-polluting, carbon-free sources of alternate energy. Otherwise, in this section of the country, that energy must come, and certainly will come, from fossil fuel or nuclear power.
This clean energy comes from only four sources: solar, wind, geothermal and micro hydro. An added bonus: the fuel is free.
The area around Savannah and the Low Country has the highest number of solar hours of any region on the East Coast (with the exception of southern Florida). We do not have sufficient sustained winds for land-based wind turbines, but wind power does exist offshore Tybee Island (and we should move aggressively to install a pilot program). Geothermal-based systems can significantly reduce energy demand, though they are more applicable to new structures than retrofitting existing ones. Micro hydro could prove to be a valuable adjunct, but not a prime source of energy.
This region, however, is ripe for solar power development, with acres of rooftops, parking lots and marginal land. Unfortunately, neither local nor state government provide any incentive for solar installations, despite the fact that they create local jobs and are local wealth builders.
We must start taking action now because a new coal train has started to move out of the station. Despite repeated efforts to halt the process, the Longleaf Plant continues to receive permits to build a $2-billion, 1200 MW coal-fired plant in S.W. Georgia’s Early County. This impoverished rural area appears to be so desperate for 100 jobs that locals will tolerate 40+ years of air pollution. Multiple freight trains of coal, ripped from the face of Montana, will be hauled to the plant every day. The planet will receive a gift of 9 million tons of CO2 , 240 pounds of mercury, 6,400 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 3,700 tons of nitrogen dioxide every year.
Just this one coal plant will negate all the good work to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy demand that will be done here for the next 40 years.
What can we do? Here’s a suggestion. Prove the viability of Solar Energy by buying a turnkey factory to build 25MW of photovoltaic modules annually. The capital cost is under $4-million. (An expansion to a 100MW completely automated plant adds another $15-16 million.) Each year, the production of the initial factory alone could provide 3kW of photovoltaic modules (almost all electricity requirements) to all the new energy efficient homes that will be built in the area for the foreseeable future, with enough left over for an additional 6,500 homes. In less than a decade the Savannah area could become a Zero Energy Community, while producing hundreds of new jobs.
What do you think? Contact Jack Star email@example.com (912) 233-4288
All comments, suggestions welcome. See also www.solarsavannah.com, the Savannah
Green pages at www.savannahbest.com and www.spiresolar.com – turnkey suppliers.