Thursday, September 18 2014
By Kenneth Dobson
A Brighter Sun-Shiny Day with More Opportunities in the Making
Solar energy, through its universal sphere of influence, has an amazing way of positively impacting virtually every facet of our lives and the local economic development environment. The strategic positioning of the sun in the solar system shines on every investor, developer, employer, employee; building and business; city and region; and site location and its environment. The sun is one of the most sustainable sources of renewable energy available to mankind. It radiates energy that can be captured, converted and applied to many different solar technology systems, products and devices. Each is developed in response to the rapidly escalating demands of a fast growing technology-savvy world population. These emerging solar technology innovations can be factored into local economic development equations in ways that satisfy consumer demands while maximizing values and profitability, which can lead to energy independence with minimal damage to the environment.
The vast array solar products and processes on the market today are directly related to either solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrated solar power (CSP) or solar water heating (SWH) technologies. Each has the capacity to reduce costs, increase values, savings and profitability. These should be goals that are built into high-performance jobs, and business recruitment and attraction, business retention and expansion, and business creation and entrepreneurial development endeavor. We only have to see the solar window of opportunity and stay open to receive the vast and diverse payback that awaits us.
The product savings are those associated with cost effective investments in efficient solar systems, equipment, appliances and devices. These measures have the potential to maximize values and profitability. There are also process savings, which are achieved through the requisite changes in human behavior and everyday practices related to the use of the energy efficient solar systems, products and devices. The opportunity to achieve these savings is within the capacity of the building, business investor, developer, owner, employee, resident, consumer and economic development decision-maker alike.
As a result, this discussion focuses on strategic, potential applications associated with emerging solar products and process innovations which can increase local economic development competitiveness in the 21st century technology-driven global marketplace.
Much progress has been made in recent years with innovative technologies and techniques which have resulted in making solar electric more efficient, cost effective and affordable. The focus has generally been on increasing the capture rate and efficiency of solar panels and the solar cells within them.
As a result, many large and medium-size businesses have been quietly taking advantage of these cost-saving solar electric innovations by attaching solar panel arrays to their buildings that either have the capacity to remove the building(s) from the grid completely, partially or incrementally. These solar arrays are being designed and incorporated into some newly constructed buildings; modernization, and redevelopment or adaptive reuse of existing of commercial, industrial and some multi-family residential buildings; attached to parking
Additionally, such solar electric advancements are also proving to be of value increasingly in community and neighborhood economic development strategies, particularly as energy districts, distributed energy, PACE Districts and other collective solar energy strategies. Many of these advancements in financing provide for various solar applications to be installed without the upfront cost which have previously been restrictive. Such solar energy strategies should be crafted as part of an overall economic development blueprint for an
Additionally, progress has also been achieved as many utilities, both within and outside of Renewables Portfolio Standards, have been are quietly adding solar electric, even on a limited basis, as an optional choice to traditional fossil-fuel sources in their energy offering to their consumers.
They can range in electricity generation capacity from very large solar farms) to small solar ones... The largest solar farms tend to be located in more rural areas while many of the smaller ones may be found in urbanregional areas. Their footprints can range from hundreds of feet on suitable building rooftops to several acres of brownfields to hundreds of acres in more rural areas of a local jurisdiction. As the local economies go through various stages of transformation and diversification, solar applications are playing an increasingly
Solar Water Heaters
Solar Thermal Electricity
Wikipedia indicates that there are in excess of 80 solar thermal power stations in operation/under construction the world some 13 of which are located in the United States. Announcements have been made for 19 additional Solar Thermal Power Stations to be built in the United States as part of a larger group of future stations to go online throughout the world.
Solar Equipment and Devices
Time and space limitations prevent discussion at this time of several other noteworthy solar-powered equipment and devices with potential economic and community development applications. However, it is important to note that the number reported does not include products, devices, equipment and businesses that are labeled “green” but with solar energy content and influences. The retail entrepreneurial and contractual services segments of the market are also realizing significant growth.
Sustainability of Solar as an Industry
3 K. Dobson, “Solar and Urbanregional Economic Development"
About the Author: Mr. Dobson is currently Economic Development Administrator, Fulton County, Georgia. He has over 30 years of economic development experience in most every aspect of urban and regional economic development. He is viewed nationally and internationally as a respected innovative leader in asset-based, knowledge-based, technology-based and sustainable economic development applications and practices. He is also an accomplished author, speaker, advisor and educator.