Solar Energy: The "Million Solar Roofs"
By Jeanette Joy Fisher
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Million Solar
Roofs Initiative is an ambitious project, but it's
important to America in terms of generating and conserving
energy. The Initiative proposes to install solar energy
systems in one million U.S. buildings by the year 2010.
The project was first announced on June 26, 1997, by
President Bill Clinton in a speech delivered to a United
Nations session on Environment and Development. It
includes two distinctly different types of solar devices,
although both derive energy directly from the sun.
The first devices are called photovoltaic arrays, which
convert energy from the sun into electricity. That
electricity can then be used to power the building, and
excess power can be sold back to the utility company.
The second solar devices are called thermal panels, taking
heat from the sun and transferring it to a hot water
and/or space heating system. Such devices are often used
to help heat swimming pools, which can be a major energy
To accomplish its lofty goals, DOE has made an ongoing
effort to work with the building industry; federal
agencies; utility providers; solar energy developers and
installers; lending institutions; city and state
governments; and many other organizations, both private
and governmental to remove the various barriers that have
traditionally held back the widespread use of solar
The DOE doesn't take a direct role in local or state
activities, and doesn't offer financial aid to install
solar energy devices or systems. However, the program does
bring the power and influence of the federal government
together with businesses, organizations, civic leaders,
and government officials to help increase the demand and
market share for the many solar energy applications that
One of the major goals of the Initiative is to reduce
greenhouse gas and other emissions. If the Initiative's
goal of one million solar energy units is met in 2010,
estimates suggest that America's carbon emission will be
reduced by the equivalent of 850,000 automobiles. That's a
huge decrease, and a target well worth shooting for.
Another goal is to create more high-tech jobs in America.
As a result of the Initiative, an estimated 70,000 new
jobs will be created due to the large increase in the for
qualified technicians to help install and service an
ever-growing number of photovoltaic arrays and solar hot
Increasing America's domestic market for solar-powered
systems will also help keep the country more competitive
in the world marketplace. In fact, some estimates have
valued the photovoltaic market alone at more than $1.5
billion worldwide. More information about the Million
Roofs Initiative can be found at www.millionsolarroofs.org.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
Jeanette Fisher, author of interior design and real estate
investing books, offers more information on
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