Ask most people in Maine about solar power, and you get what seems like a sensible answer: “We’re too far north for it to really work here.” That also would be the wrong answer.
The world’s leading solar power country today is Germany, which sits at a latitude that runs roughly from the top of Maine to Labrador. Consequently, we get about 33 percent more solar energy than it does.
Over the last 20 years, Germany has installed more solar power than any country in the world, and it isn’t looking back. With more than a million separate solar systems in place, the country on a sunny day can produce as much as half of its energy needs with solar power. Meanwhile, we’re still daydreaming about “too-cheap-to-meter” Quebec hydropower and building pipelines for natural gas that will help as a bridge, but eventually will rise in price as we become more hooked on it.
Germany is headed toward an energy independence that we find only in campaign speeches. And with the money it is not shipping to Saudi Arabia, it’s building new jobs and houses and schools. What a crazy idea, that solar stuff…