Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2016


John Van Buren



In our present age there is a dire and growing need for energy. Nations that are modernizing continue to require more for their expanding populations. The old way of creating energy through non-sustainable methods such as, gas extraction, coal burning, and oil drilling is becoming ever more environmentally hazardous on a global scale. There are alternatives already being implemented today and one promising industry that will help move our dependence off of non-sustainable resources to sustainable is solar energy. However, while solar energy is completely sustainable and up to the task of mass consumption, how will it grow economically and effect our dependence on non-renewable resources? What exactly is happening to bring it into communities it purports to assist and stabilize? Different regions will obviously benefit more than others in relation to their access to sunlight and energy requirements but all societies can harness to some degree this awesome power. This study explores some of the current issues in energy dependence and inequality especially that facing Nicaragua due in part to American Intervention and environmental circumstances. Recently Socially Responsible Companies have focused on energy inequality through initiatives such as investment in solar power to bring electricity the poor in Nicaragua. It also explains possibilities to this issue for Nicaragua and the United States by addressing energy reforms in Germany. Exploration of quantitative studies will frame the issues along with information I will gather from experience first-hand. This is highlighted in a ‘voluntourism’ based expedition that pairs volunteers with a sustainable solar energy company in order to provide electricity to a small rural community. I went on such a trip in March 2016 to install a 1kW solar electric system on the rooftop of a school and personally saw how such initiatives are designed and implemented. Finally, analyzing the data from governmental reforms, market economy trends, socially responsible companies and environmental calamity, this paper looks to make recommendations for continuing the growth of sustainable energy projects that protect the environment, modernize communities by strengthening their economy and enhance their energy independence.