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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA leading the way in a new frontier

    For over a century, the UA has been on the front lines of research, innovation and exploration – from life-saving medical techniques to cutting-edge space exploration.

    Now it is pursuing similar prestige in another field: solar energy.

    The UA house, known as “”SEED[pod],”” in conjunction with Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE), represents a major contribution to our nations advances in utilizing solar power.

    An interdisciplinary team composed of the architecture, agriculture, civil engineering, material science and systems and industrial engineering schools was recently selected to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in 2009.

    Achieving this designation allows the UA to join an elite group of institutions in competing for international recognition for solar energy innovation. Other schools selected include Cornell University, the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada and Technische UniversitÇÏt Darmstadt in Germany. The teams will be judged in several categories that test the efficiency and sustainability of the projects submitted.

    Solar energy is clean, safe and abundant, yet we currently get less than 1 percent of our energy from this source. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we have the potential to produce over 150 percent of our state’s energy demand with solar energy. The UA is doing great things to make Southern Arizona the “”Solar-con Valley”” of the nation. It is taking our state one step closer to a more sustainable way of life, tapping into the more than 300 days a year of sunshine Southern Arizona has to offer.

    Solar provides an effective response to some of the most significant challenges our nation faces. Climate change is just one example. Science has demonstrated that global warming is happening and that human activity is a significant cause. By transitioning to solar power, we can go a long way toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is no more suitable place on the planet than Southern Arizona to deliver the promise that solar technology holds.

    But even if global warming weren’t an issue, there are other compelling reasons to invest in solar energy. For example, it offers an effective solution to our nation’s goal of achieving independence from foreign energy. I believe ending America’s addiction to foreign energy by investing in renewable energy is the Apollo mission of our generation.

    Finally, there is the economy. For generations the dominant theory has been that we must choose between “”green”” living and a vibrant economy. It turns out these goals are not mutually exclusive. We can create good quality jobs while living in harmony with our environment.

    The solar industry is already providing evidence that this is true. It creates quality domestic jobs for scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, managers, manufacturing technicians, marketers, installers, designers and builders. As students, you are well placed to take advantage of rising demand in these fields. From 2006 to 2007, revenue for solar companies in the United States grew by 116 percent and their job base grew by 103 percent.

    Congress must help further the potential for solar energy to help solve many of today’s problems. Last October I introduced the Renewable Energy Assistance Act (HR 3807). This bill would extend vital individual and commercial tax incentives for installing solar energy components and investing in energy-saving residential upgrades. Additionally, it encourages research and investment in advanced solar energy and energy-efficient technologies. I am working hard to get it passed into law in 2008.

    When we “”go solar”” we are literally changing the world. With solar we can build a more prosperous community, a stronger nation and a better future. I am extremely proud that the U A is taking a leadership
    role in making these promises of solar energy a reality.

    Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords represents Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District. For more information visit www.giffords.house.gov

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