On Thursday April 5, 2012, Jon Costanza represented the solar industry on a panel of energy experts discussing the state of Energy and Sustainability. This panel was the third and final presentation in the energy speaker series put on by the PA Energy Alliance at Montgomery County Community College .
The panel consisted of four speakers; Jeff Norton who moderated the event and presented information from the PA Energy Alliance on Nuclear Energy; John Hanger, Former Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Former President and CEO of PennFuture; Professor Rob Kuhlman, Geology Professor, Montgomery County Community College; and Jon Costanza, SunPower Builders.
The discussion was fairly well balanced and drew questions from the audience such as “What is the sustainable answer for energy?” The panelists agreed that a careful combination of energy sources would be the future of energy. One of the concerns that was brought up by a student in the audience turned attention to concern over public health issues related to fracking, and questioned the “unknown’s” of the industry.
Another concern was of the greenhouse gas emissions of oil vs. natural gas, erupting in a minor dispute regarding several published papers on emissions comparison between natural gas and oil. Any tension was quickly alleviated when Jon piped in with the reminder that, “We don’t have this problem with sunshine.” This comment was followed by his explanation that still there are environmental issues with the production process of solar panels in that rare metals are needed, and our increasing imports of panels from China remove production from the scope of U.S. working conditions and environmental regulations.
No one entertained the thought that there is a simple answer to where the future of energy is headed, but the panel more realistically opened the minds of the audience to questions to ask about energy sources here in Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world. The earth does not know the political boundaries that we have set out, and our decisions on energy need to reflect this fact.
Photos courtesy of photographer Matt Carlin, Montgomery County Community College