CalPIRG’s Go Solar campaign: what you need to know

Whether it’s your first semester or your last, you have probably been approached at least once by the on-campus environmental group CalPIRG. Perhaps you’ve accumulated a ton of their flyers and emails by now — maybe even texts. Perchance you’ve heard about their campaign, called Berkeley Go Solar! If you don’t know too much about it yet, now is your chance to learn. Here’s what you need to know:

California sun — it’s undeniable

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Drought-ridden California might be seriously lacking rain, but the endless sunlight streaming into every window and onto every person is really pretty nice. While it’s great for tanning, sunlight is an accessible energy source that we have plenty of and aren’t tapping into as much as we should be. As one of the sunniest places in the country, California could easily take advantage of the consistent access to sunlight and make an effort to rely on solar power. This is one of the main reasons that more and more environmental groups are looking to increase the use of solar panels, and CalPIRG recognizes that Berkeley is a great place to get started, given its forever-gorgeous blue skies and unhidden sun.

Depletion of resources + no new ones = unhappy humans

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It is no mystery that the world’s resources are disappearing. Thankfully, humans are embracing new methods of overcoming the depletion of old resources. Teslas are more and more common, and not just because they are mighty fine-lookin’ vehicles. Recycling is rampant throughout the West Coast and starting to become a regular activity on the East Coast. It only makes sense for us to look to solar power as a solution to the finite nature of fossil fuels and other resources. We’ve really got to start conserving those sources of energy and using unlimited resources such as wind power and solar energy.

Establish an official solar policy? 

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Overall, CalPIRG’s goal is to implement a new solar policy. According to Berkeley Go Solar! campaign director Arthur Bookstein, the group wishes to “increase the quota of Berkeley’s energy that is derived from solar power.”

“We’re hoping to get Berkeley’s City Council to approve this by the end of the year,” he said. “It’s not currently an issue under the political spotlight, but the recent presence of solar power has really started to increase and we hope to build off that momentum.”

On campus, CalPIRG’s goal is simply to educate students about solar energy. Bookstein said “raising awareness for solar energy’s potential is the most important goal right now, because it’s really a pressing problem of our generation.” By showing that there are a lot of students interested in solar energy, City Council will be more likely to pay attention to this issue.

The solar energy controversy

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Much of the controversy about solar panels centers on the quality and quantity of the energy produced; solar panels do not work when there are clouds or when it is dark out, and they only work at top efficiency during times of direct sunlight, which is calculated to be about five hours per day. Furthermore, solar panels are fairly expensive to install and maintain, and they take up a lot of space. In other words, many believe that the costs of solar energy outweigh the benefits.

Image Sources: Lester Public Library via Creative Commons

Contact Linsha Qi at [email protected].