As the race to the White House begins to take shape in the second half of 2015, Hillary Clinton has taken a firm stance on renewable energy.
Clinton has vowed to, on the first day of her Presidency, set in motion a plan that would see more than half a billion solar panels installed in American by the end of her first term.
This would, according to her video, apparently be enough energy to power every U.S. home. Although it was not discussed in her promotional video or related articles, let’s do some quick math to find out how much power this would actually be.
Five hundred million solar panels would amount to a 150 billion watt system assuming the emerging standard of 300 watts per panel. These panels could provide a total of 216 billion kilowatt hours per year. However, the total residential energy consumption for 2014 was 21,618 trillion btus or 6.335 trillion kilowatt hours. This is about 30 times what five hundred million solar panels would provide.
There are approximately 133 million single family homes in America. If every one of them had a solar panel system providing a high percentage of total energy needs, this would require about 2.66 billion solar panels – more than 5 times the 0.5 billion solar panels Clinton calls for. Of course, there are many millions of people that do not live in single family residences. Community solar programs will provide even more solar panels to fill that part of the renewable energy gap.
Make no mistake, the installation of half a billion solar panels by 2020 would be a major step in our eventual transition to a clean energy society. This is a bold and welcomed message coming from Hillary Clinton.
Common sense messages are included with Clinton’s push for more solar. She sites the facts that air pollution from fossil fuels causes 3,000 premature deaths and 700,000 asthma attacks every year.
The bottom line is that it is certainly much easier for Clinton or any politician to promote solar power now. This is simply because the math has been done and solar is an economic winner. Solar is no longer a costly form of energy but rather a great way to do the right thing and save money at the same time. It truly is a no brainer for any politician who isn’t already in the pocket of a fossil fuel company.
There is plenty of hope that renewable energy will not continue to be such a politically charged subject in the near future. As the general public starts to become more aware that solar power and other sources of renewable energy are winners from both an economic and environmental perspective, we can elect leaders who will support our much needed transition to a clean energy society.