Nearly six years have passed since Hurricane Katrina pounded the Gulf Coast and caused miles of destruction in the city of New Orleans, including the 9th Ward. Make It Right has garnered national attention due in part to the participation of actor Brad Pitt, but the environmentally friendly construction is admirable, as well.
Homes in the 9th Ward are equipped with rooftop solar panels that generate 2.7-3.0 KW of energy. The systems over-produce energy, allowing homeowners to gain credits that reduce their monthly energy bill.
You can read more about solar panels on homes in New Orleans at Make It Right’s website: http://www.makeitrightnola.org/index.php/building_green/detail/energy_efficient_features/
While we’ve noted the numerous advantages of solar energy, it is only responsible to note some of the disadvantages, as well.
- Initial cost of installation: Solar energy systems can be costly to install at first, but with various grants and incentives available, that cost can be greatly reduced.
- Larger space required: Because of the equipment associated with solar energy, smaller residential and commercial spaces may be limited in solar opportunities.
- Solar energy requires light: While this is true, the light required for solar energy does not need to be direct. Consumers can also install solar thermal systems that are powered by heat.
- Pollution can impact solar panels: Unfortunately, pollutants in the air can have an effect on solar energy panels. The blockage caused by pollution prevents optimal light from reaching the panels.
Like all energy systems, solar energy does have disadvantages, but the many advantages that we’ve noted so far usually outweigh these points. We are happy to discuss incentives to lessen initial costs and panel placement to ensure optimal light.
America is the largest consumer of energy, and we’re not slowing down. Widely used fossil fuels like oil are a leading cause of global warming and air pollution. The United States relies heavily on fossil fuels from potentially unstable countries, vulnerable to upheaval, disputes, and other disruptions.
In 1973, the United States imported only about 34% of our oil, but the 1973 oil embargo was a serious blow to the economy. Today we import over 53%; this should cause concern over our dependence on importing fossil fuel. We also run the risk of environmental crisis like the recent destruction in the Gulf of Mexico.
Solar energy reduces the amount of fossil fuel that is burned and reduces pollutants and carbon dioxide released. We recommend solar energy systems are highly efficient, durable, and sustainable. Solar energy is generated locally, keeping energy dollars at home, creating economic growth and community benefits.
By now, many have forgotten the devastation that occurred from the earthquake in Haiti, but a feature from the April/May issue of Home Power magazine focused on the impact that solar energy is having there. For example, many hospitals and medical centers lacked power immediately following the earthquake, and continue to be without. Washington, DC-based non-profit Solar Electric Light Fund (www.self.org) has diverted solar equipment originally intended for clinics in Cerca la Source and Hinche has been to an emergency field hospital in Port-au- Prince.
For information about other solar non-profits and tech companies, check out Home Power’s article.