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We have all seen the horrific images coming from the Gulf of Mexico as an oil rig disaster morphs into an environmental catastrophe far exceeding the Exxon Valdez nightmare of 20 years ago. Millions and millions of gallons of crude oil are spilling into the Gulf, defying the best efforts of the oil company, BP, to stop it or the federal government to contain it.
News reports indicate that there will be more than enough blame to go around, but what is the root cause of this disaster?
Certainly the major driver is our own nearly insatiable demand for more and more oil to fuel our daily lives. Whether gasoline at the pump or petroleum-derived products like those plastic water bottles we use in ever increasing amounts, oil plays a big part in many facets of our lives. But make no mistake, oil consumption in the form of the gasoline or diesel that we burn in our cars and trucks is the reason that oil drilling continues to expand, and to expand into more dangerous and environmentally fragile settings. In fact, oil accounts for more than 95 percent of all the energy used for transportation in the United States, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A new generation of Electric Vehicles - whether pure EV’s like the Nissan Leaf, or Plug-in Hybrids, like the Chevy Volt - is coming online and will begin to show up in dealers’ showrooms all across this country over the next 12 months. These EVs will be practical, and with proper incentives in place, affordable for regular consumers who could not afford already existing EVs like the Tesla Roadster.
But we need to go one step farther. The majority of electricity in this country - more than 50% here in Southern California - comes from burning coal. We can, and we must, do better. Fortunately, there is a solution for the “fuel” problem for EVs - and that is locally generated solar power.
Solar-powered charging stations - whether at home or in public spaces such as parking lots - could allow these EVs to be re-charged by clean electricity making them truly Zero Emission Vehicles from the “well-to-wheels.”
At Run on Sun we are working with a number of clients to design and install solar power systems to fuel this next generation of EVs. If you are thinking about getting an EV for your personal or fleet use, we encourage you to contact us.
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