Massive investment in the use and expansion of renewable energy sources is essential, because so many needed things flow from that. First, we must take up this effort in order to preserve the environment that we live in. We all need clean air to breathe and water to drink. We are feeling the effects of climate change right here in the form of lake erosion as we see many of our beaches disappear. If this continues, it threatens buildings along the lake, our roads (including Lake Shore Drive), and Chicago’s sewer systems. It’s not an abstract goal of saving the world. It’s the very real need to save our homes.
Second, expansion of green energy will provide thousands of new jobs in our community and spur economic growth from the production, distribution, installation, and maintenance of these new systems, including expansion of our smart power grid
One example of technologies in which we should be investing are solar panel windows, which are designed to still be fully see-through, but tie into the power system of a building and provide energy all day just by sitting in the sun. Installing these types of panels in high rises and skyscrapers will help reduce the total power that we need from the grid every day. We can offer tax incentives to off-set the cost of the installations, thus enticing these buildings to hire thousands of workers to do this work who, when they go to spend the money they’ve earned, will generate new revenues for the state and boost the economy.
As a happy side effect of this kind of mass installation will mean that the technology will likely become more efficient and less expensive. At that point, we can offer the same tax incentives to homeowners to begin that process as well, thus maintaining the need for these jobs for decades, and simultaneously reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Even with conventional solar technology, we are simply not utilizing the resources we have at our disposal. The Interstate Highway System in Illinois stretches for 2,249 miles, much of it in areas that have a grassy median that simply sits empty. We should be placing solar panels in theses medians to collect the sunlight that is shining there, but currently not being collected. This program would also create thousands of jobs throughout the state, benefiting rural areas that are experiencing employment issues as well.