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The History Of Solar Power Adoption

By Timothy Peters

Solar power has had excruciatingly slow in the United States. The price of solar energy components is generally sited as the primary reason. That may be valid…until you consider rising fossil fuel costs, what it costs not to adopt solar energy, and how mass production can bring down price.

The average American, according to Nature Conservancy statistics, actually uses enough energy to emit about 54,000 pounds of greenhouse gases per year. This compares to an average of 5.5 tons or 11,000 pounds per person worldwide. So…let’s see, I think that equates to about 5 times more greenhouse gas contribution per year than any other person in the world. If you’re from the United States, does that make you feel a little “icky?” Are you thinking a little more strongly about the cost of not adopting solar energy? Just for a little more consideration…would you rather be at the top or the bottom…when it comes to emission contribution?

Now, what about solar power costs? Developing countries have been much quicker to adopt solar energy because they could never afford conventional energy systems. Too many rural areas and isolated homes would be on a waiting list…forever…if they wanted traditional on-the-grid electricity from a fossil fuel power plant. Compare that to a $200 solar collector placed on a roof that lets someone who’s never have a hot shower before have that experience, and then know that once that collector had been paid for, every shower is free. What would you choose?

Europe and other countries were hard hit earlier by rapidly escalating fuel costs as well as an unstable supply source. As a result, they moved to solar power adoption rapidly. As fossil fuel prices have risen rapidly, so has the installation of rooftop solar system for hot water heaters.

China has a major initiative in the manufacture and installation of solar water heaters. According to a March 2010 article you can find at, there are currently about 27 million solar water heaters installed there.

Although it has set standards, and certain initiatives to give renewable energy sources a boost, the United States has barely plodded along behind. It is, however, the major consumer of fossil fuel energy, and has, therefore, maintained enough economic leverage to keep relatively affordable prices even for imported energy. This may, however, change rapidly with increasing world economic instability and rapidly depleting fossil fuel availability.

This all may sound like gloom and doom. It may actually not be that bad, however, if every country, including…or especially…the United States moves forward to meet world initiatives on stabilizing our climate. By shifting to renewable energies under this initiative, there are projections that say that by the year 2020, we could actually cut carbon emissions by 80%. This is equivalent to closing 690 coal-fired power plants.

Do you agree… a pretty impressive objective? Definitely worthwhile? And that’s not the whole story. Moving forward rapidly to adopt solar power means we can also affect significant savings as mass production and distribution make solar energy a very affordable option.

Given the relative affordability of fossil fuel energy, only the most environmentally-conscious, and/or affluent families and individuals in the United States have seriously considered solar energy for a complete power system for their homes. Few, in fact, have considered it even for solar water heaters, although in the United States, as in Europe, more and more rooftop solar panels have begun to appear. The primary focus for solar water heating in the United States has been focused around solar heaters for swimming pools. While this is, indeed, a step in the right direction, only more and more conscious choice by the American public to “go solar” in every way possible will result in the economies of scale that are necessary to take subsidies out of the equation and put it at parity…or below…with all other power options.

Currently, however, through state and federal subsidies, tax incentives, rebates and net-metering, there is a level of impetus that can move the United States toward a robust and wholehearted solar energy adoption. There are several states, including Hawaii, California and Florida, who have added their own incentives to those of the federal government, to successfully lead the initiative to solar adoption.

Solar power adoption has, undoubtedly, been slow. With industrial and political pressure, coupled with usability, availability, reliability and cost of solar components, solar energy has simply not yet measured up as a strong competitor to fossil fuel energy…the competitor that has the proven track record.

Adoption, however, may soon be forthcoming, as the many factors of cost, reliability, and environmental impact are all coalescing to bring solar energy to the front door of the orphanage…with its presentation of “pick me…I’m the right one for you now.”

History, many believe, will reflect that this was the era in which solar energy was fully adopted.

Looking to find out all you can about solar energy history then visit to find the best advice on home solar power for you.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Peters, Timothy "The History Of Solar Power Adoption." The History Of Solar Power Adoption. 17 Aug. 2010. 24 Aug 2015 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Peters, T (2010, August 17). The History Of Solar Power Adoption. Retrieved August 24, 2015, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Peters, Timothy "The History Of Solar Power Adoption"

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