Despite Andrea Geraghty’s assurances in “Tap the Gas Under Deer Lakes” that the lease provides adequate protections, I have deep concerns about drilling under a public park. I will let others debate the merits of that proposal, but I’d like to offer some factual rebuttal to her misinformation on solar energy.
The vast majority of solar panels being installed in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the country are crystalline silicon and do not require rare earth minerals in their production. Other less frequently used technologies, such as thin-film solar panels, require small amounts of rare earth minerals, as do many consumer electronics such as smart- phones and laptops. While China makes the majority of the world’s solar panels, solar installers, such as the Pittsburgh-based company where I work, still have the option to use 100 percent American-made panels, inverters, racking and other equipment. About 98 percent of solar panel components can be recycled after their 30- to 40-year lifespan and these programs are being expanded by the industry. Installing solar doesn’t require water testing, traffic impact studies, pollution monitoring or experts to monitor safety during production.
Yes, manufacturing solar panels is an industrial process with large energy inputs, but energy payback time (the time it takes for a panel to produce as much energy as it took to make it) is typically between 1.5 to 2.5 years. This holds true even for Pittsburgh, where we can produce as much electricity as a solar array in Miami, Fla., just by adding an extra panel or two to the system.
I do agree with Ms. Geraghty that Allegheny County can be a leader in solving the energy crisis by leveraging our most abundant natural resource, but I believe that resource is available above the ground.
Solar Energy Consultant EIS Solar
The writer is vice president, Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania