Solar energy + electric car combo is no turkey

cieditors-blog-entry3Traditionally, in the U.S. we use the last Thursday in November to note the many different things for which we ought to be thankful. Here are a few things to be thankful for if you’re a fan of solar, electric vehicles, and, last but not least, a cleaner, greener world for us all:

1. Solar is going mainstream — and it’s popular too. Corporations are doing it, professional sports teams are doing it, NASCAR is doing it, pretty much all of Germany is doing it, and even the White House is going to do it. Meanwhile, a recent poll shows that pretty darn near 100 percent of Americans support growing solar in the U.S. Despite the snickering of a few out-of-touch commentators — going solar isn’t what it used to be in the 1970s when Jimmy Carter put solar thermal on the world’s most famous white house. Solar is taking off, in the U.S., and around the world. It’s going mainstream — big time. That’s good news for America, the world, and Mother Earth.

2. Revenge of the Electric Car is here! Automakers pulled back their electric vehicles and crushed them the first time around. That’s not going to happen this time. Too many different companies are invested too heavily in EVs, with the laggards (hello Honda) being forced into a global race to push mainstream, production EVs and PHEVs off assembly lines. Gentleman, start your electric motors, the race to electrify driving is on!

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3. Solar is increasingly affordable. In the U.S., and globally, the cost of residential solar continues to drop. Indeed, some studies predict so-called “grid parity” in the U.S. within the next few years. Meanwhile, we managed to snag a 5.59 kW home solar system for $8,000 out of pocket thanks to local utility rebates, a Federal tax credit, and even a bit of stimulus money that came to us in the form of a City of Aurora home solar rebate. That’s not saying everyone can clean up like we did — with our gasoline cost offset, we’ll hit $8,000 in savings in less than three years — but many people can. For those who still think spending $8,000 on something else is a better deal than paying for one’s electricity up front (you’ll end up paying those same thousands of dollars for electricity whether you buy a solar system or not), there’s the possibility of solar leasing in the U.S., which is now available in 10 states in the U.S.

4. The solar + transportation synergy is starting to take off. There’s more and more evidence that more and more people are starting to get it: Solar isn’t just for refrigerators and dryers anymore, with the arrival of battery powered electric vehicles, solar energy can be used to power America’s — and the world’s — transportation sector. For instance, there’s a veritable solar carport revolution underway in the U.S., there’s the Solar Roadways initiative, and, of course, there are plenty of people who will be plugging into solar-charged driving in the next six months, thanks to the arrival, in the U.S., of cars like the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF. This is a big deal, considering that in the U.S., 70 percent of the oil we use goes to power transportation, with the vast majority of this going to fuel cars and trucks.

5. We’re officially plugging into solar-charged driving sometime before our next Thanksgiving (we hope). Ok, we’re not 100 percent certain Nissan will get the LEAF to Colorado before T-Day, 2011, but we’re hopeful it will — and we, not to mention our neighbors and, again, Mother Earth, will be thankful when this happens, as it’ll mean something approaching 100 percent air pollution free driving, and, therefore, cleaner air for us all, when we finally move from talking the solar-charged talk to walking it!

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