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Tom Still: White House goal possible with solar energy transition well underway | Business News

In some places, such as the Wood County town of Saratoga, those kinds of projects are largely welcomed by local officials, landowners and citizens who think the tradeoffs are worth it. In other places, such as the Dane County village of Cambridge near the proposed Koshkonong solar farm, the reception is mixed.

“Not in my backyard” opposition is just one factor that could hold back solar energy’s growth in Wisconsin and nationwide. Others include federal and state tax policies, the sourcing of solar panels now primarily manufactured in China, the staggered “retirement” of coal-burning power plants, the need for better storage technology, competition from natural gas, and competition from other renewable sources such as wind.

Combined, those factors make the goal of moving from 4% solar today to 45% solar by 2050 a steep climb.

Steep … but not insurmountable, given what most scientists believe is a climate change crisis triggered by modern human activities.

To stave off the worst effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, floods, droughts and fires, most experts believe the answer is to quickly curb release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Megatons of carbon trapped in coal and oil over eons have been released largely inside of two centuries, which has led to warming and other changes.

Outside of sudden changes in public attitudes toward nuclear fission (zero emissions but waste disposal hurdles with old-style plants), nuclear fusion (no longer a pipe dream but still decades away) and the advent of hydrogen energy (which some believe may even harm the environment), tapping the power of the sun is a leading replacement candidate for coal.

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