I live in a residential area where an out-of-state company is proposing to install 8,000 highly-visible, taxpayer-subsidized, industrial panels on a neighboring farm. I love clean energy solutions, but there’s no need to pave over paradise to put up a parking lot.
The earth is getting warmer and we are running out of oil. Beyond a doubt, our grandchildren will have to rely on renewable energy to power our homes and cars. Today though, to slow global warming, to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and to pave the way to a smarter energy future, we have to begin by responsibly deploying as many solar panels as possible. To this end, we have to create a responsible solar energy deployment plan.
Here are some common sense thoughts that come to mind:
To the people that choose to live there, countryside viewscapes are just as important as oceanfront property. Is drowning a hillside in solar panels any less invasive than the erosion caused by rising sea levels? Both are heartbreaking, and it should never come down to a choice between ruining the countryside or losing coastline. Let’s make sure that we have exhausted the use of less meaningful land before we pollute our viewscapes with fields of plastic, silicon, galvanized metal, and chain link fence.
Although we urgently need to embrace clean, renewable energy, it hasn’t reached a point where it’s necessary to ruin surrounding property values. Solar farms are ugly. Visual mitigation is a must, and alternative sites such as gravel pits, dumps, junkyards, and distant backlands have to be considered first.
Share The Burden
Similar to affordable housing and recycling, every city and town has to take responsibility for producing clean energy. Poorer, rural towns cannot become guiltless, unsightly powerfields for richer cities. The sun shines everywhere. Use your rooftops, your roads, and your parking lots to share the burden.
If solar panels are going to be an important part of our future, we have to demand that they are ethically produced. No community should allow the deployment of panels that are produced in countries or places where labor and the environment are less important than market share and profits.
Save The Farm
The capacity to produce locally sourced food is paramount to ensuring that our food supply is diverse and safe. It should never be a choice between clean energy or clean flood. Once again, we must exhaust every acre of less meaningful land before we sacrifice our farms and orchards.
Consider Fire Suppression
It seems to me that a field of burning solar panels is more hazardous than a pile of three thousand burning tires; at least the tires don’t produce electrical currents. It has to be the responsibility of solar installers to prove beyond a doubt that burning panels can be extinguished using the host community’s equipment. Moreover, firefighters have to be certain that panel arrays don’t create electrocution or life-threatening respiratory hazards. The cost of fire suppression has to be part of the cost-benefit analysis.
This post originally appeared on www.echolouder.com.