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Rooftop solar panels could provide nearly half of the power in the U.S.

Stashed in: Ecology!, Awesome, Philanthropy!, Energy, Ecology

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To take advantage of the sun’s energy to satisfy our ever-increasing need for electricity, Americans will have to take a fresh look at their roofs.

report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that if all suitable roof areas in the United States were plastered with solar panels, they would generate about 1,118 gigawatts of solar power. That is 40% of the power that Americans consume every year.

And that isn’t the half of it. The study only estimates the solar power potential of existing, suitable rooftops, and does not look at the immense potential of ground-mounted photovoltaics, said NREL senior energy analyst Robert Margolis in a press release. “Actual generation from PV in urban areas could exceed these estimates by installing systems on less suitable roof space, by mounting PV on canopies over open spaces such as parking lots, or by integrating PV into building facades. Further, the results are sensitive to assumptions about module performance, which are expected to continue improving over time.”

This is at current efficiency levels and rooftops only. If efficiency went up a few percentage points and you included, say, upper wall area... you might be at 100%.

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If you want to encourage the development of solar rooftops one nice place to donate is Everybody Solar. They work at getting solar panel for charities, non-profits, and educational institutions. This includes homeless shelters, science museums, and organizations which help troubled youth. You can help encourage solar while helping other good causes.

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