The total amount of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface is tremendous and in order for us to replace carbon dioxide emitting sources we must first start by reducing our own energy demand. There are several ways of becoming energy-efficient such as better lighting, appliances, windows, and insulation. Synergy is a concept of renewable energy and energy efficiency and we see this illustrated in net-zero energy homes or buildings. (Turk and Bensel) Outside of our homes however, there is an entire world out there that has yet to catch up with the renewable energy revolution. Wind and sunlight are two forms of flow-limited energy, meaning, the wind is not always blowing and the sun is not always shining. To harness the immense amount of energy, I believe that Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is the most beneficial resource currently available to limit our dependency on stock-limited resources such as oil and coal.
What is interesting about CSP is its ability to capture and store the sun’s solar energy and use it at a later time. Unlike energy-dense fossil fuels, renewable energy flows are not constant, therefore without sunlight and wind there will not be energy. But that is not the case with CSP as the sun is captured with rotating mirrors which are focused on an area that produces power. That power moves through a similar hydraulic system as hydroelectric power, only cleaner and not as destructive to wildlife and their ecosystem. (U.S. Department of Energy)
In 2013, CSP created tens of thousands of new jobs and brought tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. Economy. (Resch) Although the GDP spiked in relation to solar energy, if we as a nation fail to address our human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life and protect the environment, there will always be a disconnect between human development and social progress. (Porter)
A few known reasons that solar energy production has been slow to replace traditional energy sources are the millions of dollars of upfront money needed to invest in and harvest solar monocultures, coupled with the ignorance of Congressional Republicans to recognize global warming even exists. While start-up costs are exorbitant, CSP is approaching competitiveness with conventional gas-fired systems during peak-demand hours when the price of electricity is the highest. (Mehos)
Botkin, D. B., & Keller, E. A. (2014). Environmental science: Earth as a living planet (9th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Mehos, M. (2008). Concentrating Solar Power. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1044(1), 331-339. doi:10.1063/1.2993731. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=5&sid=fd0d469f-2c3b-440b-b14b-97b844c018b1%40sessionmgr198&hid=123
Porter, M. (2015, April 9). Why Social Progress Matters. Project Syndicate. Retrieved from http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/economic-development-social-progress-index-by-michael-porter-2015-04
Resch, R. (2014). U.S. Solar Industry Has Record-Shattering Year in 2013. Power Engineering, 118(4), 14. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=5&sid=7afa0eb1-ea2a-43b7-afa5-f04e7958b214%40sessionmgr4005&hid=4205
Turk, J., & Bensel, T. (2014). Contemporary environmental issues (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
U.S. Department of Energy. (2011, July 8). Energy 101: Concentrating solar power [Video clip]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO5rUqeCFY4 ◦
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