Solar Power’s Drinking Problem

Credit: The Phoenix Sun

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When basking in the warm moral glow of solar power, it’s good to remember one of Barry Commoner’s four laws of ecology. Commoner is one of the founders of the environmental movement — although, for some reason, he’s never received the credit he deserves.

The Commoner Law to keep in mind is: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

With solar power, I’d just expand Commoner’s language to ensure that it includes the drinks.

As reporter Stephanie Tavares points out in today’s Las Vegas Sun, “Solar photovoltaic developers say their plants don’t use much water, but ‘much’ is relative.”

Especially in the desert, where, as Tavares points out, most solar power plants are being built.

She’s written a great expose, well worth the read, particularly because of Tavares’ admirable legwork in putting real numbers on words like “much.”

I should point out that Tavares isn’t trashing solar. She just makes a compelling case for considering all the environmental impacts of generating energy, no matter what the source.

You may also want to check out a piece in today’s Phoenix Sun (my other writing vehicle), where we’ve got a story about the 25 largest photovoltaic plants on Earth. Guess how many are in the US? If you guessed more than 0, try a smaller number.

———

Osha Gray Davidson is a contributing blogger at Mother Jones and publisher of The Phoenix Sun, an online news service reporting on solar energy. He tweets @thephoenixsun.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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