Buried on page 20 of our local paper was a news item “Students push solar for NCS.” The National Cathedral School may not qualify as you your average American school. (For those of you not in the know, NCS is a private school home to some of sons and daughters of the elite of the Nation’s Capital.) But what is going on at NCS may be a glimpse of what the future holds.
The article in the Northwest Current chronicles how NCS is now planning on installing 32 solar panels on a century old (read historical) building at NCS—due to the insistence and perseverance of two students at NCS, Charlotte Zimmerman and Christina Boulineaux. The two raised $20,000 and even interviewed solar contractors so that they could place these solar panels on NCS. They recognized that the future is in renewable energy, and they were not about to let the school administration avoid its responsibility to make the school an energy-friendly place. If we don’t start with renewable energy in the schools, then where should we start?
What these two women show the rest of us is that there are an increasing number of pockets of hope and excitement for the solar industry. The younger generation may not sit idly by as we waste yet another opportunity to push solar into the mainstream. They are busily equipping themselves to take on the energy burdens we left them as we developed our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. That model is no longer sustainable and the younger generation is going to have to step up and pick up the pace for alternatives to fossil fuels.
Now 32 solar panels on one building is not going to make a big difference, but the idea behind distributed solar energy is that we will take one rooftop at a time. You add one rooftop and another and another, and soon you have enough solar energy to power an entire community. A developer in Florida is now creating a community for almost 20,000 homes that will run entirely on solar energy. Earlier this month, legislation was introduced in the House to put solar on 10 million roofs in the next nine years. And if we cannot accomplish these relatively modest goals, then we should stand aside and let the students assume the solar mantle and push solar into the mainstream. They seem to know how to get things done.