Alternative Energy

Faced with a range of alternatives, Kids' Environmental Report Card pollsters chose solar power as the most promising alternative energy resource. This form of energy received more votes than the two other alternative forms — hydroelectricity and nuclear power — combined.

Most people agree that solar energy is the least polluting and most inexhaustible of all known energy sources. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the energy in a 20-day supply of sunshine could equal all the energy contained in the world's coal, oil and natural gas reserves.

Photovoltaics: Turning Light into Power

Photovoltaics (the technology for converting solar energy to electric energy) is the most rapidly growing energy technology today. In Germany, the photovoltaics industry generated over 10,000 jobs in 2006, the most recent year that such data are available. Today, Germany, Japan and the U.S. are the world leaders of photovoltaic installations.

Despite the obvious benefits of solar power, less than 10 percent of our present-day energy needs are met by this source. Why? One possible answer is that the panels that gather solar energy are costly to make.

"Solar panels are very expensive, so don't be surprised if your parents don't want to have them installed on your home," Elise, the moderator of Scholastic's Save the Environment bulletin board recently explained.