|important resource. A new Department
of Energy has been formed to draw together various programs which have
been operated by different agencies. Creation of this cabinet-level agency
has served to dramatize the importance of our energy problems as well as
to streamline the government's efforts. Within the DOE, solar programs
are joined with energy conservation to form a single division. Without
good energy conservation practices such as insulation, double-glazed windows
and natural shading, solar energy systems cannot work effectively.
Specifically, DOE has outlined a number of programs
for utilization of solar energy, including:
||Demonstration programs to stimulate more widespread
use and public acceptance of solar heating and cooling of buildings and
hot water heating. (Such solar functions are now competitive with traditional
||Direct generation of electricity from solar photovoltaic
cells -- the solar panels similar to those used to power NASA's spacecraft.
(The cost is high now, but we can expect a ten-fold reduction in price
over the next three years, making it competitive for some applications.)
||Generation of electricity from the heat produced
by solar thermal plants. The size of these installations range from the
large centralized "power tower" concept down to modest plants located where
power is consumed, thus eliminating transmission costs. (Such an application
would be ideal for irrigation).
||Although seemingly unrelated, wind power to generate
electricity is included under the solar program. Sunshine is the ultimate
driving force for the wind, thus the correlation. In remote locations small
scale wind-powered generators look practical. (The DOE also is considering
large windmills with 100-foot blades for central power generation).
||Fuel generation from feedlot and sewage wastes
comes under the DOE solar program. (Tucson had a functioning pilot plant
for several years.) The program also includes the production of alcohol
from grains and wood wastes. When mixed with gasoline the resulting "gasahol"
makes an effective and less polluting fuel.
Sensing the potential of solar energy, the State
of Arizona has been aggressive in establishing a healthy solar industry.
Created two years ago, the Arizona Solar Energy Research Commission is
the key to that effort. Among its functions are a small grants program
to encourage private solar energy research and demonstration projects and
an information program to acquaint citizens with the practical application
of solar energy. The commission has established good contacts with federal
agencies and has been instrumental in securing several solar energy grants
for the state. The commission also is setting statewide standards of performance
for solar devices, an important function that the U.S. Department of Energy
is leaving to the states.
Another key element to this new industry is Arizona's
|excellent solar energy tax incentive
program, one of the best in the country. It includes property and sales
tax exemptions, rapid amortization and income tax credits for solar devices.
Solar research at our three state universities
in Tucson, Tempe and Flagstaff continues to be a most important part of
the research and development effort in the state. Facilities have been
constructed at the three campuses where students and professors seek to
improve methods for harnessing the sun's energy. Their efforts are crossing
traditional departmental lines as physicists, chemists and astronomers
join forces with architects and engineers in this multi-discipline quest.
In the private sector, Arizona's copper industry
has been one of the leaders in exploring the use of solar energy. Recently,
I had the opportunity to drive a non-polluting electric car developed by
the copper industry. In Tucson, Decade 80's solar house built by the copper
industry is a beautiful example of near-future technology artfully crafted
into a truly stunning Arizona house. Because of its superior heat transfer
properties, copper will play a major role in the efficient use of solar
energy. In addition to enormous potential in the United States, the outlook
for a substantial foreign market for solar equipment is very encouraging
and should provide a real stimulus to Arizona's copper industry in the
One of the key elements to extensive solar energy
usage is informing the public about existing programs and potential. We
as a people are just now beginning to learn (or re-learn) how to use solar
energy, its opportunities and limitations, the facts and fallacies. A few
sources of information are given in the box in this newsletter. One of
these deserves special mention -- the Department of Energy's National Solar
Heating and Cooling information Center. Their toll-free telephone hotline
(800/523-2929) provides information about all aspects of solar heating
and cooling. You'll find the responses to be quick and informative. You
might ask for the free booklet, "Solar Hot Water and Your Home."
As part of an effort to "spread the word," I am
cosponsoring a seminar on solar cooling to be held in Tucson in December.
Because solar air conditioning technically is more difficult than heating,
progress has been slow. But I want to encourage good contacts between Arizona
groups and the Department of Energy, and we want to be sure that Arizona
builders are aware of the latest advances.
It is my own feeling that the nation's news media
will be playing a most important role in educating the public about solar
technology and the true scope of the energy crisis, and in gaining public
acceptance of some of the costs of solar operations. The start-up costs
will be high, but this fact should not discourage us from utilizing this
energy source. The concept of life cycle costing must be widely accepted
before a really significant number of people will pay the initially large
cost of installation.
The media also can contribute by joining in the
fight against possible fraud. Solar is a new industry and most consumers
lack experience in planning or purchasing proper apparatus. It could be
easy for modern-day snake oil salesmen to play upon public gullibility
by delivering shoddy, substandard solar equipment at outrageous prices.