Feature Article

Five Reasons to Be Optimistic About Solar Energy

Commercial-scale solar energy, buoyed by battery storage, is continuing to grow, redefining how we produce and use energy.

May 8, 2018

The 1973 oil embargo by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) led to gas shortages and price increases throughout the world, and triggered a cascade of events that continues to impact our energy future. With higher fuel costs, geopolitical instability, and increasing pollution, the U.S. was forced to examine how it produced and consumed energy.

Out of this 1970s-era chaos came some true environmental milestones: cars became more fuel efficient with lower emissions; the U.S. established the Environmental Protection Agency; and President Jimmy Carter signed the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration Act, which founded the Solar Energy Research Institute (later renamed the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL). He established an ambitious goal of having 20% of U.S. energy come from renewable sources by the year 2000 and even installed solar water heating panels on the White House. The U.S was working towards fossil-fuel-free energy independence, and U.S. solar research led the world.