Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Solar Power International conference in Orlando earlier this month. One of the main recurring themes of his speech was that the solar industry has to get its story out to the American public.
So here are three reasons solar power is important to our future:
1. The solar power industry is helping to stimulate the economy.
Clinton stated that the solar industry has contributed to recent job growth: the US has over 100,000 jobs in solar energy, a figure which has doubled in the past two years. And the solar industry stimulates job growth not only in white collar jobs such as business and technology, but also blue collar jobs such as construction and manufacturing, which helps grow the middle class. Clinton also made the point that Germany’s emphasis on solar power has added 300,000 jobs to their economy. The growth rate of the US solar industry itself is also significant: the US now has over 5,000 MW of installed solar capacity, and 2012 is projected to be a record year for solar industry growth. Finally, with costs for an average solar system falling by 30% since 2012, solar is becoming more affordable to families and businesses alike.
2. Increasing our investments in solar reduces US dependency on foreign oil.
Oil prices are not predicted to drop anytime soon, and many of our major sources of oil are in unstable regions of the Middle East. Increasing our alternative energy infrastructure is important to our national security and our economic stability. Solar power is an ideal way to grow our energy independence while stimulating our economy. And with concerns about pollution and global warming, clean energy is as important as ever. The solar industry can play a large role in decreasing carbon emissions and leading our way to becoming a fully green nation.
3. Solar can help to bring opportunity and change to developing nations throughout the world.
Many countries with high poverty have little to no access to electricity, and very high energy costs. Distributed solar projects can enable low-cost and renewable power without requiring an extensive grid infrastructure. And having access to electricity is a stepping stone for bringing other improvements to developing nations, such as access to clean water, the Internet, and other things we take for granted but that will go a long way towards improving standards of living throughout the world. By investing in solar in the US, we will help to stimulate the industry as a whole, bring costs down further and expand worldwide accessibility to affordable solar technology.