For as long as I can remember, I have looked in awe at houses I passed on long car trips at what appeared to be strange, alien-like “satellites” on the roofs of some of them.
I remember asking my dad what they were, and he would describe in great detail what they do, and how they operate. I continued asking him each time, as I could never fully grasp the concept of how something so thin could take the energy from the sun and turn it into energy that could be used to power anything from appliances to entire office buildings.
Little did I know that these seemingly out-of-this-world like structures would slowly develop into a passion for me.
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This past summer I decided that I wanted to get a camera to be able to check on my chickens while I was away on vacation.
I searched online for the perfect camera and decided on one that suited my needs. I quickly bought it, but when I went to set it up, I realized I had a major problem … there was nowhere to plug it in.
Running electricity to the coop wasn’t an option since it was pretty far from my house, so I did some research online, and came across an alternative option — solar energy.
After reading about what equipment I needed, I found a 100-watt solar panel online for only $100, and with a charge controller and battery I was able to set it up in less than 10 minutes.
Small solar cells provide power to a chicken coop at Joshua Miller’s home.
Although I have some experience with electrical work, it was fascinating how simple it was to set up. Since then, I have bought similar panels and hooked them up to various devices like lights and race cars, and I have also even used it to upgrade my duck pond.
I created a solar powered water fountain to use in their pond to allow the water to circulate so I didn’t have to bring my chickens fresh water every day. It is always so amazing so see a product work off solar energy, especially with the added benefit of not having to go through so many batteries.
With the recent influx of electric cars, many people are excited to be more “environmentally friendly,” but what most people don’t realize is that many times they are not as beneficial for the environment as originally pitched.
What people don’t think about is how this electricity is “harvested.” In most cases, these electric vehicles require more fossil fuels to be burned in order to produce the higher demand of electricity required to recharge the batteries.
With the development of cheaper, and more efficient ways of creating solar power, many households are switching to this modernized energy source. What was once thought as a “luxury” has now proven it can be mass produced. So why hasn’t everyone switched to solar energy?
If a bill is passed that requires all new buildings to possess rooftop panels, the solar panel industry will increase to support the additional demand. With the help of the federal and local government, more solar-making facilities could be constructed creating thousands of jobs, and ultimately lowering the cost of solar energy. Less generators would also be necessary, and the thought of losing power during a storm will decrease dramatically, which could save lives and food from being wasted.
I would truly like to see a difference in the way we live our lives. Yes, it is beneficial to start converting cars to electric to produce less carbon emissions, or picking up trash from the beach, but why not prevent mistakes before they happen?
I am always reminded of this by my parents, who constantly say how it is easier to do something once, then to try correcting it later.
Installing solar panels on thousands of houses will take many years, but who knows how much longer we can depend on fossil fuels? By getting a head start and educating the “kids of tomorrow,” our future will be brighter with a reliable source of energy.
I never had a passion for solar energy or climate change, but after researching and actually trying it out, a new interest emerged.
Who knows, maybe in a couple years all buildings and automobiles will be 100 percent solar powered, not just my chicken coop.
Joshua Miller is a junior at Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown Borough, Pennsylvania. An avid Philadelphia 76ers fan, he’s also a member of Bucks County’s 4-H Club.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Solar power is key to a bright future without fossil fuels