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Solar Energy in the USA

Even though the use of solar energy in the United States is relatively new, people in other countries have been using solar energy for a long time. Right now Germany is the biggest producer of solar energy, followed closely by Australia.

Interest in solar power around the world increased during the Oil Embargo of 1973 and the resulting oil crisis that dragged through much of the 1970’s. During that time the countries that had the richest deposits of oil in the Middle East refused to ship oil to the United States, Western Europe, and any country that had supported Israel. Faced with huge oil shortages and angry consumers businesses quickly began developing solar energy technology that had been abandoned when oil was cheap and plentiful.

Why have other countries adopted the use of solar energy so much quicker than the United States? The simplest answer to that question is cost. After the end of the Oil Embargo the United States developed strong ties with the OPEC countries that led to a large reduction in oil prices.

For decades the United States has enjoyed some of the cheapest fossil fuel prices of any developed nation because of the existence of fossil fuel deposits like coal and natural gas in the United States and good relationships with other countries like OPEC that have huge natural supplies of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuel prices in the United States are rising and consumers are shocked at how much they have to pay for gas and electricity that is coming from fossil fuels but for many countries around the world the costs that United States citizens pay is still much lower than the cost of gas and electricity in their countries that must import 90% or more of their fossil fuel products.

Now the focus is on solar energy around the world because the world is running out of fossil fuels, and the environment is changing at an alarming rate due to pollution from the use of fossil fuels and the destruction of the earth to get fossil fuels. Scientists, politicians, and homeowners that want to live in an environmentally responsible way while saving money on their energy costs are all trying to find ways to make solar energy more practical and more affordable for everyday citizens.

For homeowners around the world solar energy is quickly becoming a cheap alternative to costly fossil fuel energy. Since the cost of living is increasing fast homeowners need to find cheaper ways to power their homes. In addition, being able to generate your own solar power gives homeowners greater independence.

Since the United States has enjoyed low fuel prices and an abundance of sources for fuel traditionally using solar energy has never been something that was really popular. But with fossil fuel costs rising at an alarming rate and many people concerned about being able to afford to heat their homes or afford electricity combined with a growing awareness of the environmental problems caused by the use of fossil fuels it’s becoming a lot more popular, even trendy, to use solar energy.

The Utility Solar Assessment Study, a recent scientific study about solar energy use in the United States, predicts that by 2025 10% of all the electricity in the United States will come from solar energy.
This is because solar panels are being made more efficiently and in greater numbers which is bringing the cost of using solar energy down to a point where most home owners can afford to use solar energy. Also, the Federal government and almost every state are offering homeowner tax rebates, grants, and other financial incentives to encourage them to install solar panels in their homes. Especially in states that are known for constant sunshine like California and Florida solar energy is becoming just as cheap as fossil fuel energy.

The study also predicts that by 2015 the cost of solar energy in most major cities will be on par with the cost of fossil fuel energy even with the set up and installation costs of buying solar panels. By 2025 it will be cheaper and more efficient to use solar power to power most appliances and homes than it will be to use fossil fuel based energy.

Solar power is becoming more and more common so people are getting used to solar power as a viable option. One of the most popular uses for solar panels today is in garden lights. These are small lamps that light a yard, walkway, or light up a tree or wall. Rather than run electrical cords across the ground or bury them in the ground, which is expensive, if the garden light is powered by a solar panel, it can be placed anywhere and does not have to be wired. These lights are of course only on at night but their solar panels gather energy from the sun during the day and store it in a battery. Throughout the night the light runs off the battery’s electrical energy.

Increasingly, roadside signs are powered by solar panels. Because of the cost and complication of running electrical wires to remote areas, the signs have solar panels installed which make electricity from the sun. Solar panels are especially useful for portable construction signs. Because they don’t have to be plugged in they can be placed anywhere and get their energy from the sun. Many calculators are now powered by solar panels rather than batteries. Again, they don’t have to be plugged in and as long as there is any light, even artificial light, and the solar panels can generate enough electricity to power the calculator.

As applications of solar power are increasingly becoming a part of our society, people are giving solar panels a second look. With costs decreasing and efficiency increasing, homeowners and developers are considering using solar panels more than ever.

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