Letter writer: Ask legislators to scale up solar

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In 4 billion years, the sun will explode. A few hundred million before this affair, it will swell to the size of Earth’s orbit, at which point our planet will be consumed in red Armageddon.

For now, the sun radiates down a generous 3,766,800 exajoules of energy annually (that’s a billion billion joules). The sum of all human industry demands a mere 500 exajoules per year.

Let us not care about solar because of its economic value — viable as it is. Rather, by scaling up solar infrastructure, we can ensure that future generations might grow up as we did: with fresh air and clean water and thriving lands. Transitioning to clean energy is an inescapable goal if we are to preserve the health of the sculpted Piedmont in the west, the immense beauty of the coastline to the east and everywhere in between.

I implore the reader to act. Call your North Carolina legislators. Urge them to pass legislation to scale up solar. They should make it easier, not harder, to cultivate the bountiful energy offered by our sun. Doing so is necessary for the long-term stewardship of our state — and our planet. For the Earth to meet its final destiny at the hands of the sun, instead of inaction, would be a beautiful conclusion indeed.

— Eric Schwartz


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9 thoughts on “Letter writer: Ask legislators to scale up solar

  1. Don

    thanks for this letter. NC could make no better investment for the next generation of our state. Really important. It’s a no brainer…. which is why sadly it probably won’t happen down in Raleigh in 2017. Maybe Buncombe City and County can take the lead and offer a credit on property taxes based on the size/cost of the installed system for some fixed period of time. Just a thought and one way possibly to circumvent the woeful cadre of state legislative leaders (that have been foisted on us thanks to the unremitting gerrymandering they’ve so honed) who will nothing without an explicit nod from Duke Energy in this regard.

  2. Rick

    The use of solar energy could make some reduction in the amount of fossil fuel needed for energy production but solar cannot be the wonderful pristine solution for all energy needs that its said to be. Those technologies that require high energy inputs like steel production, aluminum smelting from bauxite, petroleum refining, the operation of railroad locomotives, truck transportation on highways, ocean shipping of commodities, and other needs simply CANNOT be met with solar. Solar is appropriate for lighting needs and some other low current demands but there are real limitations to its application. Energy storage for times without sun radiation is an area needing good answers. We certainly do not want many of our south-facing slopes covered with acres of solar panels and battery racks. Inverters are needed to change the DC produced by solar panels into the AC used by most all of today’s electrical infrastructure. The proponents of solar usually miss the complete picture of using solar and still advocate its use as being a 100% perfect solution. Not so, at least in industrial societies.

    • Don

      were not looking for a “perfect solution” …..we’ll take a 30-50% reduction in fossil fuel extraction and use over the next 10-20 years….. NO PROBLEM. Oh, and thanks for the tutorial on fossil fuel vs solar…. wow, who knew all that…. so very detailed (an inverter to convert the DC to AC….. hummmm…. there’s a real problem…. not). Anyway, they’ll love this tutorial of yours at a local elementary charter school (about third or fourth grade seems about the right level ;) And, let’s put those solar panels on top of every big box store, school, new homes etc…. not on our south facing slopes for sure. good point there.

      • Lulz

        This is what kills me about your mentality. This country produces the least amount of fossil fuel byproducts by its use. Yet you’ll gladly rid the use of it here while exporting it overseas. And how does this improve anything?

    • Dave Erb

      Nonsense, Rick. We create demand incrementally (milliwatts to gigawatts), and we provide supply that way, too. That’s why transformers and inverters exist. And Duke already has a huge storage answer in place, just down the road from Asheville: 1,775 MW at the Bad Creek / Jocassee facility, with 200 MW more on the way. It’s there because nuclear reactors aren’t dispatchable.
      I agree that we shouldn’t be covering land with solar panels; that’s why mine are on my roof. If you’d like to learn how technology actually works in a world that’s inherently imperfect, we teach Mechatronics Engineering here at UNC Asheville. Come see us sometime.

  3. Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson) is on it.

    “Legislation that would make major changes to state energy policy, including sweeping revisions to solar energy regulations, is taking shape and could be introduced as soon as this month. Changes could include approval of third-party energy sales and streamlined permitting for solar projects. Under current rules, only utilities can directly sell energy in North Carolina. Word that the work of a large stakeholder group of industry and environmental advocates convened in early 2015 to tackle a number of energy issues would likely yield new legislation this session came in a keynote speech Friday by Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, at the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment’s Clean Tech Summit in Chapel Hill..”


  4. Grant Millin

    Strategy for grid modernization and a range of other efficiency measures is valuable to know how much ‘general solar category’ is needed.

  5. Deplorable Infidel

    ok, so in 20-30 years when all these solar contracts run out and all these panels are worn out, what happens to them then ? Is removal addressed in such a clean energy plan ? If solar is so ‘viable’, why must taxpayers subsidize it ? I do admit that I have a solar company looking at a 92 acre tract in a more eastern NC county to evaluate.

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