Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2016


John Van Buren


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, renewable energy resources accounted for 13% of electricity generation in 2015. This figure is appallingly low, and needs to be raised in order to combat the effects of climate change. This thesis discusses the problems within America’s current model of electricity production, and what can be done to update our inefficient model into one that is much more efficient and environmentally friendly. Using data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, scholarly independent research, and economic projections, this thesis identifies the reasons behind the failure of the United States Government in not moving away from an energy model that continues to utilize dirty energy resources. Furthermore, this thesis provides thoughts on the advantages of investing in solar panels, and how they are affecting, and will continue to affect, the way in which homes and cities receive energy. This thesis examines the policy and law aspects of widespread implementation of solar panels. The thesis also explores the economic discipline, and explores the opportunity that solar panels can provide to private homes, which will promote the use of solar use as a whole. Lastly, this thesis looks at how the widespread installation of solar panels can, and is already, affecting both urban development and growth, and the growth of developing countries and communities. This thesis, after explaining the issues from the perspective of the three disciplines, offers up some policy suggestions on how to move homes and firms in both the city and suburbs away from America’s outdated grid system, and toward energy self-sufficiency via solar panels. These policies could include, divestment in coal and gas, heavy investment in solar photovoltaic research and development, and putting more emphasis on educating the public about the benefits of solar panels.