Friday, March 4, 2011

Solar energy proponents look to the not-so-distant future at ATC forum

Florida faces a need to make significant energy infrastructure improvements, so it’s elementary that it tap its most abundant natural resource - the sun.

Such was the call of experts who participated this week in a forum on solar and renewable energy hosted by Daytona State’s College of Technological and Occupational Programs.

Dr. Ron Eaglin, chair of Engineering Technology programs
at Daytona State College, presents at the ATC solar forum.
“The Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of the next 20 years are the ones who right now are trying to make solar and renewable energy work efficiently and effectively,” said Dr. Ron Eaglin, chair of the college’s Engineering Technology programs. He suggested to the more than 100 business leaders, educators and government officials who gathered for the event at Daytona State’s Advanced Technology College that now is the time to bring forward the concept of growing renewable energy.

Industry experts and advocates spoke about a wide variety of applications for solar power and their economic implications, particularly in light of Florida’s increasing energy demands. Not only can solar energy reduce the demand for fossil fuels, it also can help businesses reduce operating costs.  

“Florida will need 75 percent more energy to meet demand over the next 20 years,” said Mike Aller, executive director of the Space Coast Energy Consortium, a non-profit group of business and community leaders dedicated to building  and supporting the clean energy sector in the Central Florida region. “That’s going to require a huge investment and it should include solar technology.” He pointed to a “world-class technical workforce from NASA that is now ready and available to help grow the industry in Florida.”

In addition to Daytona State’s College of Technological and Occupational Programs, the forum was co-hosted by the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association, Employ Florida Banner Center for Clean Energy and the Surfcoast Chapter of the Florida Planning and Zoning Association.