Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

October 2012 Conservation Notes

Solar panels are popping up on US rooftops and fields nationwide. In the second quarter of 2012, the number of solar installations soared 116 percent over the second quarter 2011. A total new capacity of 742 megawatts was installed.


Solar power critics gripe and moan because taxpayers are subsidizing solar. Actually, US subsidies to all renewable energy industries totaled only one percent of the subsidies fed to fossil fuel industries!


That startling fact was pointed out by former President Bill Clinton in his keynote address at the September Solar Power International Conference in Orlando attended by 15,000 solar professionals from more than 100 countries. Over 900 exhibitors displayed their products and new technologies at the conference.


US solar power industries now provide over 100,000 jobs in 5,600 small businesses across all 50 states. Despite its strong growth, the US still represents only 10 percent of the global market.


Worldwide, solar installations are booming in many places. Germany developed the Feed In Tariff (FIT) system adopted by many nations and our municipal utility GRU here in Gainesville. Cloudy Germany, has gained some 300,000 solar industry jobs as a result of its pioneering FIT program. Japan, striving to recover from the Fukushima tragedy adopted an FIT program last July and is seeing a flood of solar project plans now.


A rapid shift to solar, wind and geothermal power worldwide is desperately needed by Florida, the US state most vulnerable to the accelerating sea level rise, caused by fossil fuel consumption. Solar energy is the clean renewable that works best for Florida, based on existing technology.


I hope the Sunshine State will soon become a leader in solar power, rather than a laggard. We should do at least as well as New Jersey, a solar leader. For the sake of our grandchildren, Floridians must summon the courage to demand solar leadership.


Florida has the technology, but must overcome ignorance, dogma and selfish politics to achieve solar leadership.


Lee Bidgood, Jr.

Gainesville, Florida