Recent measures put forth by Chicago area lawmakers have brought up the question of sustainable energy all over again. While scientists may not agree on the specifics due to less than perfect data, common sense dictates at the non-renewable and moderately toxic fossil fuels that drive most of the modern world’s industry and commerce is not a healthy or well thought out long term plan for living in the world. New options must be found if humanity is to maintain its standard of living.
In Chicago, measures are being taken to add solar power panels to buildings. The exact wording and long term planning of these measures to increase the city’s use of solar energy are still being discussed and held up, likely due to Chicago’s infamous municipal government. Still, there are a number of good and sound reasons why the Windy City should take these measures seriously.
- Solar energy is sustainable. Given as most of the fossil fuels humanity, Chicago included, relies upon for modern industry and technology are non-renewable resources, it makes sense that people will one day need to switch to more reusable forms of getting energy. While there are some technologies push towards this exact goal, ranging from biodiesel that transforms specific types of natural rot into a substance chemically similar to diesel fuel or wind farming technologies, solar energy is likely the one that will probably be used in the Chicago metropolitan area.
- Solar panels are convenient. Out of all the forms of renewable energy sources, solar panels are the ones that will fit best in an urban environment. While wind farming and geothermal power are viable options in rural and suburban areas, in the densely packed environment of Chicago itself, solar panels are the only viable option for renewable energy. These panels can be mounted on Chicago’s many rooftops to generate a portion of the power each building needs and lessen the building’s need for other forms of power. Over the course of a few years, this fractional power will add up and do some good for the city’s environmental health.
- Solar panels are cleaner than other forms of power. While most of the energy sources Chicago and indeed every city on Earth, is reliant on, are efficient enough, most of them generate many unhealthy pollutants, mostly in the air, but some energy sources have more complex and toxic side effects. Nuclear power, becoming increasingly important as the price of fossil fuels rises as supply diminishes, generates a large amount of waste that lasts for thousands of years. Coal makes a great deal of toxins in the air, all hype about “clean coal” aside. While these and other methods of producing energy may continue to be used, the fact is that newer, healthier forms of power generation such as solar panels are likely to be the future of energy for the human race.
- Solar panels save money very quickly. While setting up an array of solar panels is not a free thing, the fact is that the energy they generate will protect the buildings they’re set up on money very quickly. Because these buildings are less reliant on other sources of energy, that’s money not spent on power bills because the energy came from the solar panels. The money adds up very quickly, particularly in the bright summer months when the sun is out the longest. This is particularly important as more energy is needed to keep a building cool during the sweltering Mid-West summers, especially in light of the city’s humidity due to its proximity to the Great Lakes.