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SolarDay 2014: Let the Sun Shine In

Saturday, June 21 is worldwide Solar Day.

In honor of this event, here are some fun facts about solar energy technology:

Estadio Nacional World Cup Stadium has more solar power capacity than 11 competing countries.

Solar energy technology has a 6,000-year history… and this may be the world's oldest known solar device:

World's oldest known solar device

Here is the total area of solar panels it would take to power the world, Europe, and Germany:

Total area of solar panels needed to power the world, Europe and Germany

Global solar PV demand will pass 150 GW by the middle of this year:

Global solar PV demand chart

US solar installations in 2014 are expected to double 2012 solar installations:

2014 solar installation chart

Solar now costs less than coal and natural gas as an energy alternative for the U.S., even if you don't count the health and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels!

Solar vs Natural Gas comparison

This amazing drop in cost is just the latest in a long trend for solar:

Long-term solar trend chart

What This Means for Solar Energy Technology

If you think this paints a rosy picture for solar's future as a practical, safe, clean, renewable energy technology, there are lots of experts who support that conclusion. If you want the details, including possible pitfalls, here is an excellent and thorough article by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance: The Future of Solar Economics and Policy.

I hate to end this article on a "downer," but there is a downside to all this good news. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), if solar energy deployment doesn't increase 12 times over by the year 2030, the world is headed towards a "climate catastrophe." The sooner we progress beyond our fossil foolishness, the better for all of us.

Is this realistic, or even possible? In the words of the IEA, "Transitioning towards renewable energy is possible at negligible additional cost. The economic case for the renewable energy transition is even stronger when we include socio-economic benefits — with these factors are taken into account, switching to renewable energy results in savings of up to $740 billion per year by 2030."

So… what are you going to do for world SolarDay 2014? Have you ever considered a career in Renewable Energy Technology or Solar Energy Technology?

Kyle G. Crider (MPA, LEED AP ND) is a professional science and sustainability "story teller." In his spare time he is pursuing his Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary (Environmental Health) Engineering and traveling the highways and by-ways of home state with his wife Beverly in search of fact, fiction, and folklore for Strange Alabama.