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Reader shares questions about solar energy

solar farm under construction
SOLAR FARMS COMING: Some solar farms like this one in east-central Indiana are under construction, and more are on the way. Join the conversation and share your views.
Reader’s Report: The conversation on solar energy and other alternative sources continues.

The goal behind the article Time for a conversation about solar farms was to start a dialogue about the pros and cons of solar energy in Indiana. The article appeared in the November issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer on Page 10. It appears to have achieved its goal. Readers are writing and calling, sharing their observations and thoughts about so-called “solar farms” that often occupy hundreds of acres in one location.

Since the article appeared, a mega-sized solar farm was announced for Starke County in northern Indiana. Plans appear to be well underway for that project. Meanwhile, farmer sources in southwest Indiana report that multiple projects are possible in that area. Companies that build solar farms are apparently drawn to the large existing network for transmission of electricity once it’s created that exists there because there are several power plants in the area.

We received a letter from a reader that deserves to be shared. It continues the conversation about solar farms in a responsible way. Expect to hear a lot more about this energy alternative in 2022.

Letter to the editor

Dear Tom:

I read with interest the articles on solar energy in the latest issue. I’ve got no problem with folks that want to lease their ground for solar panels. It’s their land and they can do what they want. I wouldn’t do it simply because of the esthetics. I just would not want to look out anywhere on this farm and see a big field of solar panels. And that goes for windmills too.

The industry doesn’t do a very good job of answering basic questions regarding comparison of solar to fossil other than [saying] solar doesn’t pollute. But how many solar panels does it take to produce the same amount of energy as a 100-gallon tank of natural or LP gas? How many solar panels would be needed to fully power your home? What happens if there’s an extended period of cloudy weather?

These are questions that some energy experts have answers to, I’m sure, but they’re not very forthcoming with information. Perhaps it wouldn’t be very supportive of solar? But these are questions that need to be answered.

I see solar and wind as supplemental sources of energy, but I think we’re a long way from eliminating fossil fuel use, as we are supposedly going to do by 2035, unless there is some kind of major breakthrough. To do that, I think we would need to consider nuclear power. No one seems to want to talk about that, but you can sure get a whole lot of power from a very small source with nuclear. If we are really serious about eliminating fossil by 2035, I think something other than wind and solar has to be used.

Another “fly in the ointment” is the big push to electric vehicles. That will take even more electric power. How is that going to be generated and how are a whole host of other issues with electric-powered vehicles going to be addressed?

And the ultimate question: How much difference will it really make with regard to climate change if we do all this? Questions, questions, questions!

Mike Scherschel,
Bedford, Ind.

TAGS: Energy solar
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