Environment America Blog
Today in the Northern Hemisphere, we experience the longest day of the year, when the sun showers our half of the world with bright and powerful rays of light.
That means more sunny hours to bike along the lake, hike through your favorite state park, and finish that pesky backyard project. It also serves as a reminder that today, and every day, we should soak up more of those rays of sunlight to power our communities with inexhaustible, pollution-free solar energy.
It’s no secret that solar energy is taking off faster than ever before. In the United States alone, we have 43 times more solar today than we did 10 years ago — enough to meet the power needs of 8.7 million households.
We’re making progress, but it hasn’t always been this way. For so long—since the Industrial Revolution, really — we’ve relied on the extraction of old and dirty forms of technically sun-powered energy; long-dead plants and organic materials, pushed back into the earth and later pumped out as oil, gas, coal and other fossil fuels.
We know now that extracting and burning these fuels for energy not only harms our environment and our health, but threatens the climate and the stability of the planet.
The time has come to move past such finite, dirty and increasingly expensive resources. We already have the technical potential to directly use clean sunlight for nearly all of our energy needs.
In fact, the United States alone could power itself 100 times over just with the solar power that shines within our borders. Studies show that just around two percent of our land mass could power the entire country with solar; panels on American rooftops alone could power nearly 40 percent of the country’s energy needs.
The good news is, we’re reaching a tipping point for renewable energy in the United States and across the world like we’ve never seen before. Ramping up our renewable goals is not a question of resources, science or technology. It is a question of political will. As more and more leaders in cities, companies, institutions and states commit to goals of using 100 percent renewable energy, we’ll only get there sooner and realize more of the benefits to our country and our society.
We applaud states like Hawaii that have committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, and states like California and Massachusetts that are currently considering 100 percent renewable goals. Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, General Motors and others are also leading the way, as well as the now 30 cities that have committed to getting all of their power from the sun and the wind.
This progress will continue, and we’re committed to moving the national conversation about 100 percent renewable energy forward, working with Senator Jeff Merkley on his 100 x 50 bill to get the entire country committed to run on clean power by 2050.
So today, on the longest day of the year, we should remember this: Every minute of sunlight can be harnessed to create renewable energy to power our lives. We can and must meet this challenge. As we continue to use energy more efficiently, ramp up storage of renewable power and scale up our use of clean energy resources, we’ll make our air and water cleaner, and we’ll leave a legacy that we can be proud of on this day every year.
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- Solar Homes webinar highlights leadership opportunity for cities and states