As a member of the Green Party of Canada, I receive occasional updates on my FB page. This morning, it was a shared link to an article about the conversion of a decommissioned coal-fired power plant in Ontario to a solar farm. My initial reaction was “looks like a step in the right direction”. And it may well be one. After all, burning coal is the dirtiest way to generate electricity. But I’m left with two big questions. First, how much electricity will this solar farm generate (as in the percentage of the original capacity of the coal-fired plant)? Here, I’m thinking about land-use. Second, considering that cradle-to-grave analysis of solar energy production reveals some negative environmental impacts, especially related to the production of panels (which uses rare-earth metals and some pretty nasty chemicals) and their eventual disposal, what are the downsides of going this route? I don’t mean to denigrate clean technologies – I am supportive of developing solar, wind and geothermal power generation – but I can’t help thinking that there should be at least as much, if not more, emphasis placed on reduction of demand as there is on implementation of alternative sources of energy. Why doesn’t the Green Party and, for that matter, the Government of Canada (well, why not all governments?) really starting pushing urban populations to reduce consumption?