Environmental Engineering Reference
pectations. Shell now manufactures PV cells in Germany and the Nether-
lands and predicts by 2050, that half the world could be powered by re-
newable energy. BP Amoco and Shell have been installing PV cells in some
of its filling stations. BP Amoco believes that by 2050 all Europe's power
could be met by solar energy.
The key is a reduction of costs. Solar panels are expensive since
photovoltaic technology is still in its infancy. Although the price of PV
cells has fallen significantly, PV electricity is still not without a subsidy. As
more PV systems are built and installed, the market should result in solar
electricity becoming more and more competitive.
Japan is subsidizing 10,000 PV installations on domestic buildings,
while the United States has the goal of a million solar roofs by 2010, which
include solar heating systems as well as photovoltaics.
Photovoltaics may provide a revolution in the supply of electric
power. Still, to ensure that new buildings contribute to sustainable de-
velopment a less cautious bureaucracy is needed, which is less resistant
to new ideas and not associated with vested interests, especially in the
non-renewable electricity industry. Logistical problems have also damped
solar energy growth. This includes the difficulty of finding reputable con-
tractors to install solar panels.
There are more than two billion people without access to electric-
ity, according to the United Nation's Development Program. When night
falls in the developing world, 70% of the population are without electrical
lighting. Most of these rural areas are too isolated to be connected to a util-
Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a non-profit charitable organiza-
tion started in 1990. SELF promotes and develops energy self-sufficiency
in developing countries. Using the latest photovoltaic (PV) technology, it
brings power to the developing world. Some of SELF's projects include a
rural solar project in Karnataka, India, PV systems for up to 10,000 houses
in Zimbabwe and equipping rural schools in Southern Africa with solar-
powered computers and wireless Internet access. In 2001, almost 75% of
the voters in San Francisco supported a $100 million bond for solar on
buildings in that city. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
has a waiting list of building owners who want solar on their rooftops. It
has installed over 10-MW of systems. In some areas of California, Home
Depot is selling complete solar power systems.
Since 1998, the California Energy Commission has been pushing a
program to encourage homeowners to erect photovoltaic panels on their