Solar energy could potentially be a boon to the US economy. Solar was the fastest growing energy sector last year, and growth means jobs. Energy efficiency would also be a major boost to our economy, since it means reducing the cost of producing energy.
It does make sense that solar energy would be an economic benefit for the United States, providing good jobs and helping the environment at the same time.
However, I suspect you may have heard otherwise and that’s why your asking the question. There are some who believe that embracing green energy techonologies is going to make our country worse off.
They are basing this on the fact that key components of green technology – wind turbines, solar cells, energy efficient lighting etc. all have components that require a small amount of minerals that are known as rare earth elements and some other rare minerals. Even though they are called rare – the elements are abundant in the Earth’s crust, but usually not in economically exploitable concentrations. There is an exception to this, and the exception is the People’s Republic of China. The concern is that with 96% of the global market – China essentially has a monopoly on these rare earth elements, and thus will control the green technology market.
They contrast this with the world’s oil market which is more diverse, having more than 90 different countries importing to the US alone. Another point they make is that in 2003 China produced 1% of the world’s solar panel and by 2010 its share rose to 43% while over the same time period, the US share of world solar panel production fell from 14% in 2003 to just 4% percent in 2010. Another example they use is the production of photovoltaic cells, which relies on tellurium, with the only tellurium mine on Earth existing in China.
So while most of us would encourage development of green markets, some are saying that this will cause a new threat to our economy overall.
Definitely not a threat. Solar energy is becoming more affordable every day, and investment in this sector has brought not only a sizable and growing share of the clean energy market, but also green-collar jobs and support for a revitalized domestic manufacturing base.
Consider that one of the factors that could put a crimp in any economic recovery is high energy prices. Investment in solar energy capacity brings the cost down further by recycling funds into the solar sector for reinvestment to bring improved products, so the more we invest in solar energy today, the better it will be tomorrow – and even better the day after tomorrow. The price of solar energy today, or other renewable energy, puts an effective roof on the price of new generating capacity as shortages of fossil fuels and the threat of price shocks become ever-looming swords of Damocles hanging over the fragile global economic recovery.
While the price of solar energy today is typically higher than energy from non-renewable sources, these cost factors could change dramatically as the solar industry continues to expand rapidly throughout the world and as remaining fossil fuel deposits become increasingly scarce and difficult to access.
In no way is solar energy considered a threat to our economy, especially considering the fragile state our country is in with increased gas prices. We need all the help we can get when it comes to finding outside sources for renewable energy, and it is amazing how much can be done by gaining aid from just the sun alone.
In terms of solar energy’s effect on the economy, it is providing the opposite effect of a threat. With the amount that a single household can save by installing solar panels on their house, they cut out the cost of paying energy bills for the entirity of the lives. As soon as panels are installed, your energy meter is being pushed backwards- meaning you are not only saving money, but potentially EARNING money on your energy.
That’s why the government is rewarding us for switching to solar. Not only can they cover a large percentage of the installation cost, but you will be eligible for city and/or state rebates and can deduct your solar panels from your taxes. Meaning, YOU get rewarded , for rewarding your environment. What could be better?
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