The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Opinion: The government needs to fund solar energy

SEIA/Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables U.S. Solar Market Insight 2023 Year In Review
This graph showcases solar installations in the U.S. in residential, commercial, and utility areas.

Solar energy can reach greater heights in quantity, price, and efficiency if state governments and the federal government continue and increase research funding. Such increases in solar energy boost the transition from fossil fuels to solar energy, helping us combat climate change. 

Solar energy, specifically the use of photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the photons from the sun, has already been on the rise in recent years. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “in the last decade alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 22%,” thanks to federal incentives, massive decreases in installation costs, and increasing demand. 

The benefits of solar energy are extensive. 

Solar energy for starters is a renewable energy source. Unlike fossil fuels, which take millions of years to be replenished, the sun will not stop providing light energy to the earth (at least in the next 4 – 5 billion years), meaning that there is an essentially unlimited supply of sun waiting to be harvested. Further, unlike other energy sources, solar energy systems “use no fuel, are quiet and safe, contain no moving parts, require little maintenance, and do not require a turbine or generator to create electricity,” according to “Environment: The Science Behind the Stories,” by Withgott and Laposata. 

Climate change, specifically global warming, is caused by fossil fuel burning and other sources of greenhouse gasses, gasses in our atmosphere that trap heat. In order to combat climate change, we must transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. 

One drawback to solar energy that critics often cite is the variation in sunlight levels based on location, with some states or countries receiving less direct sunlight due to their increased distance from the equator. However, in California, this is much less of a problem.

According to data-focused journalism group Stacker, California is the 5th sunniest state in the US, with 5,050 kJ/m² of annual average sunlight. Even then, solar power has been proven to be successful in cloudier locations that receive less sun – Germany is a solar power leader despite being even cloudier than Alaska (a state that receives very little sunlight). 

However, currently, photovoltaic solar cells show only “40% efficiency in lab research,” meaning that solar could provide even more energy, with additional time and money for research. When Californian candidates are campaigning, they should promote funding, grants, or financial boosts to research solar panel efficiency. 

Not only is solar panel development an ethically important thing to campaign for, but Californian residents care deeply about climate change. According to the Public Policy Institute for California, most Californians believe it is “very important that the state is a world leader in fighting climate change.” On top of that, most California residents “say the issue of global warming is personally important,” “support state efforts to address global warming,” and “are concerned about the impact of global warming.” Increasing the efficiency of solar panels, thus speeding up the transition from fossil fuels to solar energy, would help combat climate change, something the people of California clearly care about.

We haven’t even reached halfway efficiency in solar panels – this is something that can be fixed with more research, something I strongly believe should be promoted by California members of government.

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About the Contributor
Conrad Berke
Conrad Berke, Beat Editor
Conrad Berke is a senior and third-year journalist. He enjoys writing about sports, culture, and opinion pieces. In his free time, Conrad enjoys watching soccer games, listening to music, playing Magic: The Gathering, and spending time with friends and family.

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