Sold on solar panels: let’s invest in the Earth

Sold on solar panels: let’s invest in the Earth

Kylee Watnick


It is my understanding that only a small minority of people prefer the blistering heat to the shade and the pouring rain to the dry. Whenever walking along the street, people tend to walk on the shadier side until they have to step aside to let someone by. If it is raining or extremely hot, people carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the elements. Without awnings, tunnels, or some other type of covering, there would be no such protection. So, why not put up coverings everywhere? Better yet, why not put up solar panels to act as coverings everywhere?

At my high school, our school parking lot used solar panels to shade the parking spots while generating energy for the school. In fact, there was actually a link on the school website that would allow you to see the total production and consumption of the solar panel energy at any point in the day.  Everyone thought this was absolutely genius. After the initial installation, there would be little to no maintenance costs, and the solar panels produce energy, so the school would not have to pay for as much electricity once the panels were in place. Not to mention all of the pros that come from using renewable energy sources, rather than burning coal or fossil fuels for power. I think that this concept could be carried out in even bigger ways.

For example, it would be relatively easy for Whittier College (WC) to add solar paneling to some of the buildings and paved areas of campus. How fantastic would it be to see the entire Athletic Center parking lot, shaded with giant solar panel coverings? If that does not already seem too ambitious, maybe WC could even consider adding these solar panel coverings to the Ampitheatre lot or on top of Turner Hall? Whatever the case, I am sure the College would benefit from the addition of a new source of renewable, free energy.

I would rather not just stick to the campus, though. I think that cities such as Whittier should consider using solar panelling to create shaded and covered areas in the streets or over sidewalks. This could help reduce the amount of heat absorbed by asphalt in the streets and lower the amount of sun exposure for people who have to walk the streets frequently. 

Overexposure to sun and heat can cause a variety of health issues, such as sunburn, sunstroke, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or, in extreme cases, skin cancers. By giving shade to sidewalks near schools and in crowd-friendly areas such as Uptown, instances of these illness can be greatly decreased amongst Whittier citizens. 

Thinking nationally, solar panels can be placed on all large city buildings — unless they opt in to the green rooftop idea, where gardens are kept on the tops of large buildings in order to increase carbon intake by the plants and to lower the amount of heat absorbed by the building. In addition, solar panels could be placed over areas of public transit such as bus stops,  train stations, and Metro/Amtrak stations so that people can have shade and protection from rain while waiting for their rides. Each city could use the energy generated to power street lamps and government buildings. The payout of this investment would be great in the financial, environmental, and health sectors.

I, for one, cannot come up with a reason for not installing solar panels everywhere. The financial costs would be earned back in the money saved from energy over time, and the environmental and health benefits are greatly important. For the health, safety, and security of people everywhere, solar panels need to be taken more seriously as a means of generating renewable energy and providing much needed services such as shading or rain coverage. It is time to soak up the sunshine.