The cost of the planned solar energy farm at Brookhaven National Laboratory appears high, until you consider the price of not building it.
The power generated by the solar array will be more expensive than that made from fossil fuels, but the long-term cost of dependence on those fuels, of pollution, shortages and money sent to hostile nations, cannot be borne.
This project makes sense. It will allow the BNL scientists to look at how an industrial-size solar facility works when plugged into the grid and answer questions like: "What happens when clouds roll in?" The lab will also work on efficient storage and transmission of solar power, advances that will define the future viability of this renewable resource.
And the facility will create jobs and solidify Long Island's role in power's future.
The solar array, to be built by BP, will cost the Long Island Power Authority $300 million. The utility will receive 32 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 4,500 homes for 20 years. That's high compared to the cost of power generated by oil or gas, but with no fuel being bought, burned and spewed out, the price sounds better.
That it is forcing the removal of 42,000 trees from the 200-acre site illustrates the realities of energy and the environment. There are no perfect or inexpensive options, but projects like this can help us identify, invent and build the best possible solutions for our future. hN