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Q&A Jeffery Owens: Can Solar Power Become More Mainstream?

October 8, 2010


Photo courtesy of Show Me Solar


Jeffery Owens is the Executive director of Show Me Solar; a non-profit based in Missouri for the purpose of promoting the use of solar energy resources. Show Me Solar organizes installations of solar systems for demonstration and training purposes and partners with the American Solar Energy Society to sponsor annual tours of solar systems as part of the ASES national solar tour event.

There are some myths about solar energy such as it can only work warm, sunny climate or it is not possible in urban areas and is too expensive. What are your thoughts on these myths?

There is a working solar electricity system at a U.S. North Pole [Owens is referring to the lack of sunlight in the North Pole and ability of this technology to still function properly] research center; we are happy to “show them working solar systems” – hence part of the reason for the name, show me solar (we are also based in Missouri, the show me state and we show people solar through a lot of other events including educational and training events).  Over the past four years we have shown over a dozen working solar systems on the Columbia Solar Tour (we also have held tours in st. Louis); documentation in the way of photographic evidence of those systems are on our website – the owners are eager to share performance data.  Expectations for Missouri – 4.5+/-0.3 peak sun hours per day on averaged annually.

People believe that solar power will be only able to compliment other energy sources but not replace it. What do you believe?

Every kilowatt-hour produced is a kilo-watt hour that can be consumed – depends on the needs and the type of system, it is completely possible to live entirely off no other energy source besides solar.  However, there are many good reasons to use other forms of clean,  sustainable and renewable sources of energy such as non-dam hydro, wind, geothermal and some forms of biomass.  Of course all of these with the exception of deep geothermal are secondary energy resources. The sun provides more nuclear power (main sequence fusion reactions, transmitted by em radiation from the sun to the earth) than we could possibly expect to build on earth in the next 100 years.

Do you believe that solar energy technology is not yet advance enough to become mainstream or is it simply people’s attitude about this technology that is holding it back?

I rarely encounter someone with the wrong attitude.  If I do they have a lot of stock in fossil fuel corporations or work for the government or a utility.  The thousands of people we have encountered at Show Me Solar events over the past four years have the attitude – why aren’t we doing more solar?  The only factors I have been able to identify standing in the way of solar energy technology has been cost, politics and legitimate environmental concerns.  The environmental concerns are minimal compared to other energy technologies, manageable and solvable.  In fact, many of the environmental issues regarding solar energy technologies have already been solved to the satisfaction of the government (EPA, etc.) And environmental groups.

What are your thoughts on Obama installing solar panel’s at the White House?

I thought they would have gone up on his Inauguration Day.  I voted on the issue of the energy crisis and the environment over any other concern even the economy (there is no economy without the environment in which it can exist).

How is your organization helping promote solar energy as viable energy source?

Educational and training events from organizing energy raisers (events where we install working solar systems) to participating in local fairs and festivals and speaking engagements in various venues including the press.  We advocate but are pursuing a 501(c)3 model so we do not lobby or otherwise attempt to influence government in any direct way such as petitioning or endorsing candidates, etc.

For more information or to get in touch with Jeffery, visit their Web site:

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Presenting a Columbia Home with Solar Power.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2010 11:32 pm

    to date, solar panels which generate more than 100Watts are still expensive but hopefully they are getting cheaper each day “

  2. November 18, 2010 7:47 am

    i could only wish that solar panels cost only several hundred dollars, i would love to fill my roof with solar panels :’:

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