Solar struggles in U.S. market

Lack of national policy keeps sun power in shadows.

It sounds so simple: Take a clean, free and endlessly renewable resource — the sun — and use it to power your homes and businesses.

Yet even as the Gulf oil disaster offers yet another reminder of the drawbacks of fossil fuels, solar power remains on the fringes of the energy industry, especially here in the United States.

Solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. energy usage, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. And although many industry watchers see big potential, the giant U.S. market currently ranks fourth in solar electric capacity — behind Germany, Italy and Japan.

While the U.S. has spent decades developing competitive solar technology, efforts to translate that research into the marketplace have faltered because of a lack of national strategy, experts say.

Read the full story on MSNBC.com. By Allison Linn. June 14, 2010.