Solar Power Is Clean and Cheap, But Still Has Challenges to Overcome

The industry still contends with human rights and geopolitical dilemmas, issues with siting, and more as solar technology scales up.

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What shape do you think solar panels should be?

Solar energy is clean, cheap, renewable, and surprisingly land-efficient, making it a really exciting technology to scale up. But to do that as effectively as possible, solar has some challenges to confront, from human rights and geopolitical dilemmas in the manufacturing process to siting challenges to the fact that people’s electricity use spikes in the evening when the Sun isn’t shining. Today, we consider the potential of solar power to improve the climate and energy sector overall, contemplate some of the challenges in the supply chain, and consider how solar can achieve its full potential. With special guest Dr. Dustin Mulvaney, Professor of Environmental Studies at San José State University.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

This story has been supported by the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems. Learn more at

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Writers: Caroline Koehl, Maddy Schmidt, Ethan Brown

Fact Checker: Hallie Cordingley

Editor: Frank Hernandez

Producers: Olivia Amitay, Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, Dain Kim, Caroline Koehl

Ad Voiceover: Robert Branning

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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