Like a lot of people, I’m excited about the premise of solar roadways – roads paved with solar panels that could generate enough electricity to power the United States, and then some. The time to make the shift to sustainable energy is now. While the premise is very exciting, it’s a very ambitious project. Some critics have said that the solar roadways will never become reality since they are too expensive. Still, with a rapidly heating planet, the time to start investing in new energy sources is now.
Of course, solar roadways are a grand endeavor. What about solar energy in our own homes? Most of Indiana’s power is generated in coal-powered electricity plants, a very nasty pollutant. The implications of this are frightening. Charging your laptop, turning on a light bulb, or using an electric car uses energy made from burning coal. Still, this gives us the opportunity to exchange this harmful energy source for something much cleaner. After all- it’s June, and even our northern edge of Indiana is bathed in glorious sunlight for much of the day. Free solar energy is streaming in and ready to be harnessed!
I wondered how difficult it would be to outfit my childhood house with a solar-paneled roof. After all, mounting roof solar panels on a house is an excellent way to save money and reduce pollutants. There’s even solar shingles available that will make your roof look like the future. The one drawback is the initial cost. It can cost thousands of dollars to outfit a roof with solar panels (most of the estimates I saw were for around ten thousand dollars). Currently, the federal government offers a tax credit for 30% of the cost of installing solar panels into your home. The cloudiness of Northern Indiana actually has some plusses when it comes to outfitting your house with solar panels. Excessive heat can damage roof-mounted solar panels, so the cooler temperatures and cloudy afternoons are beneficial.