Solar energy is not only green and safe, there’s going to be a huge demand for it. So Penang and the rest of Malaysia should get their act together and take a closer look at it. Already, Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim was reported in theSun yesterday as saying that they were looking at developing new technology such as solar power. Well, what about Penang? (There is already an MNC, First Solar, which produce solar modules and has operations in Kulim, Kedah, points out blog reader Kulo.)

Instead of going down the nuclear energy path, we should be checking out the solar energy sector, which is booming. Over in the United States, the Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland, Oregon reports:

In 2007, the solar industry nationally marked its best year ever, raking in $20 billion. But those close to the industry say the best is yet to come: In 10 years, the industry’s revenues are expected to triple.

Much of this growth is dependent on how the industry is incentivized, lawmakers said.

The hope is to create better incentives for individual solar use on what’s known as “the front and back end.” This would make it easier for individuals with solar panels to essentially resell excess energy back to the grid.

Currently, solar advocates argue, the federal government doesn’t prioritize private solar energy storage.

Blog reader George forwarded this report from the Washington Post, highlighting how Germany is phasing out nuclear power plants in favour of renewable energy (although recently there has been a revival of the debate as nuclear power advocates in the current administration try to block that phase-out):

…a law adopted in 2000. It requires the country’s huge old-line utility companies to subsidize the solar upstarts by buying their electricity at marked-up rates that make it easy for the newcomers to turn a profit. Their cleanly created power enters the utilities’ grids for sale to consumers.

Solar energy is not just a dream; it is already creating “green collar” jobs – lots of them:

German officials readily acknowledged that they are embracing solar technology not just for its environmental benefits. German firms that manufacture photovoltaic panels and other components have prospered under the new energy act and now employ 40,000 people. An additional 15,000 people work for companies in the solar-thermal business, which make heating systems for homes and businesses.

Matthias Machnik, an undersecretary for the German ministry of the environment, said the country can’t hope to compete in the long term with perpetually sunny ones in generating solar power. But it hopes to expand its exports of solar technology and become the leader in that field as well.

Solar energy plants are also easy to maintain:

It is so clean and green that it produces zero emissions and so easy to operate that it has only three regular workers: plant manager Hans-Joerg Koch and his two security guards, sheepdogs Pushkin and Adi.

Well, if cloudy Germany can tap into solar power, shouldn’t we be taking a closer look at it? Why go down the nuclear power route or build so many dams like there is no tomorrow? We have an abundant solar energy source: plenty of sunshine in Malaysia (at least on days when it is not hazy!) – but do we have the vision to see clearly?

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