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Why Aren't We Using Solar Energy More?

HESPERIA, California - I'm in the middle of my drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and as I was coasting along, I noticed a large solar farm which turned out to be the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility.

Sitting here at the Denny's in Hesperia, I was wondering, "Why aren't we using Solar Energy more in Negros?"

You either love it or hate it. You're either cooperating with it, or are in a love-hate struggle with it. Either you want to greet it when it starts to show up, or when it starts to bid you farewell. You may want to cover up and slather all sorts of oils when you go out in it, or you want to bask in all its burning glory. Yes, we're talking about the sun.

The sun is more than illumination for the Earth. It is more than that thing that you protect yourself from with all sorts of sunscreens, hats and shawls. It is more than that thing that helps you turn into a delicious, golden tan. It is pure power, and it can be harnessed as a source of alternative fuel.

If solar energy is so great, how come we're not widely using it yet?

The major roadblock to widely using solar energy is a matter of: technology, economics, and red tape.

Let's face the fact that solar energy technology isn't something that the regular Filipino can just buy off the shelf. In fact, it's not even something that a regular American can buy off the shelf. Not that it's not available, but the price of the technology isn't pocket-friendly just yet.

Solar panels cost anywhere from $70++ for a 15-Watt panel to $819++ for a 160-Watt panel. If I use 200 kilowatt hours a month for my single-room studio-type apartment, then I'd get a set of 160-Watt panel models to completely power my room, I would need to get 10 160-Watt Solar Panels totaling $8,190 or Php 348,075. And that figure does not even include the installation fees nor the other equipment that a solar power system needs. If you want to know how much you'd need to spend on Solar panels, here's the calculator I used.

In the US, however, incentives are given to homes and companies who choose to go solar. The Philippines, though ideal for the shift to solar power because of the sunlight hours we have, is not economically capable to encourage its citizens to change to solar power, just yet.

It is a sad fact that such an excellent source of alternative energy cannot be harnessed by the consumer just yet because of the lack of cost-effective technologies. Maybe all it takes is a way to bring the prices down by some economic maneuver like increasing the supply. Maybe the companies behind solar technology just need to find a way to make manufacturing a cheaper process. The bottom line is that, there is a need to make solar power more affordable, and there is a race against time to achieve that.

I honestly believe it is time to supplement whatever power supply we have in our homes with solar energy.  In the long run, we win and the earth wins too.