The Sun Always Rises
The Sun Always Rises
Nothing has driven the growth of metro Phoenix more than the sun’s rays. For most of its residents and visitors, the chief reason for coming to the region was its 334 days of annual sunshine, yet precious little of this radiation showed up in the energy supply. Indeed, Arizona has often been held up as an object of shame for the cause of solar power. Despite the bounty of its sun cover, by 2009 the state generated only 7 watts of photovoltaic power (PV) per capita, while New Jersey, with only half the available sunlight, managed 14.6 watts per capita, and Germany, with even less, delivered 100 watts to each person. If the solar industry was to have its long-deferred day in the United States, then the Valley of the Sun had to be at, or near the top, of the location list. Surely, it should be easier to generate “clean electrons” here than almost anywhere else. Yet the dismal historical record shows that the abundance of this natural resource mattered very little in the face of a political and economic environment that has prevented the sun’s energy from being enjoyed by its liberty-loving residents, let alone developed on an industrial scale. For a metropolis in the deepest trough of the Great Recession, the prospect of developing solar industry was just about the only source of boosterism I could find among the business community. Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, bragged that, with the help of federal and state incentives currently available, “the cocktail is in place for Arizona to truly be a national and international leader in solar. . . . with our incredible natural advantage, we have just about the world’s best solar resource.” Someone in his position could reasonably be expected to be gung ho about any new local market for investment, but Hamer also happened to be former national director of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Keywords: Arcadia Bioscience, Goldwater Institute, algae-based biofuel, biofuels, cancers, clean energy, global warming, hazardous waste, nanophotonics, oil drilling, semiconductor industry, universities, uranium mining, weatherization
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