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Locate solar arrays on building rooftops

While I wholeheartedly applaud Don Duggan-Haas’ statement in his March 23 Viewpoints article that the “only environmentally harmless energy source is the energy source you don’t use,” I disagree with his assertion that it’s unlikely for wind and solar to replace the electrical power in New York State now generated from natural gas and nuclear fuel.

He cites the need for UB’s quarter-mile long Solar Strand to stretch from Buffalo to Phoenix, to replace the electricity generated by Ontario’s 6.3 gigawatt Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. Clearly that’s impossible, but the immense acreage required for an equivalent solar array already exists within New York State’s borders and the array’s construction would not terminate the life of one blade of grass: the rooftops of our buildings.

In a peer-reviewed article, Cornell and Stanford University scientists say that 100 kilowatt solar arrays could be placed on the rooftops of 500,000 commercial and government buildings. The array’s electrical energy would be 16 percent greater than Ontario’s nuclear generating station, and 28 percent greater than the electricity generated from the state’s nuclear power plants.

To replace the electricity produced by burning natural gas, those scientists say we could place 5 kilowatt arrays on the rooftops of 5 million homes and add 4,020 large onshore wind turbines.

Apart from the huge number of construction jobs, our geographically distributed wind and solar power would be largely immune to terrorist attack, extremes of weather and would leave our descendents the gift of unpolluted power generation sites.

Charley Bowman

Chairman, Renewable Energy Task

Force, WNY Peace Center