Solar Energy and the Considerable Effect It Has on Improving the Environment

Written by: Samuel Gregoth
11/26/2019

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Solar energy is easily one of the most important ways to bring in energy during this time period. Here’s a little about why solar energy is so important and other aspects of its development and use.

Overview

It’s a fact that the sun is the best source of energy that we are ever likely to find. It supports a huge amount of life on Earth for a reason. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to try to harness that energy as best as we can. Currently, we’re only picking up a tiny percent of the amount of light and energy that hits the earth from the sun. The more that we increase this number as well as increase the efficiency percentage of solar panels, the more that we will be able to increase our energy supply for cheap.

This isn’t to say that there’s been no progress on this front over the years, of course. The efficiency of solar energy and paneling has been going up for decades. The fact is that we need to put effort and resources into getting this efficiency as high as possible. It will go a long way to helping us end the dependency we have on other finite sources, such as fossil fuels, for example. Beyond the effects that these fuels have on the environment, they aren’t being renewed. There’s a finite number of them. When we run out of them, that’s it, there’s none left.

They were created inside of the Earth using processes that took a longer amount of time than the entire length of human civilization and then some. So, we’re going to need other sources and the time to look for those sources is now.

Abundance

Fortunately, the lack of infinite amounts of gasoline or coal isn’t a problem, since solar energy is by far the most abundant of any resource on Earth. Plus, the source is cheaper to produce than other sources. The fact that’s really interesting is that technically, there’s enough solar energy bouncing off the Earth every hour to meet the energy needs of the entire planet for a whole year. All of this in just a single hour.

The trouble is to find a way to capture as much of it as possible. Another way of illustrating this is that if you put solar panels throughout the entire Mojave desert, it would generate more than double the amount of energy that’s used in the entire United States in a single year.

Advancement

Since 1977, the cost to use solar energy has dropped by 99%. That’s quite a large amount of savings. The cost is down to 22 cents per watt now for solar. This means that the tech is definitely getting good enough to be far better than other sources without even taking the environment into account at all. That’s just a bonus extra thing if you’re looking at this from a purely business perspective. Obviously, when you add that on top of everything else, the case becomes even more convincing.

Another thing worth noting about all of this is that solar power plants can last more than 40 years or even more than that still. In general, these plants are backed up by a purchase agreement with a customer. This could be a utility, a customer, or a business, for example. The agreements last around 25 years or so. The agreement can then be renewed, but the point is that the panels themselves can last for 5 decades or longer. All of the other accouterments around the plant have a lot of value as well. It’s true that the technology is always increasing, as well to become more efficient and have a more economical approach. The lifespan of these solar plants can be enormous though with not too much needed in terms of maintenance, especially when compared to all of the headaches that come with other kinds of plants like for coal.

China

One thing you may not know about solar is that China is going all in on it. Solar energy has been slowly gaining more and more notoriety in the United States over the last forty or fifty years, but China absolutely loves it. China installed over 24 gigawatts just in the first half of 2017 compared to the United States that only did 12.4 GW.The number of solar units that china installed just in a half a year would be enough energy to power over 8 million homes in the United States. That’s just from what they installed in 6 months!

New Energy on the Rise

Solar is also one of the fastest growing sources of electricity. In 2016, over a third of all new energy sources came from solar. 10 years ago this was just a few percentage points. That’s a rapid assent of 10 times or more. It’s actually likely that this will only go up over time. It makes a lot of sense that it should as well, of course. After all, the solar light is all around us, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t take advantage of it since if we don’t, it’s simply going to bounce off the Earth and fly back into space uselessly.

Other Considerations

Solar is also one of the easiest sources to get going. With windmills, coal plants and other sources like from dams or other hydro sources, it can take a lot to get everything set up in the beginning. However, solar panels are cheap to produce and easy to set up This makes them ideal for disaster areas, for example. There have been plenty of instances where people have set up new solar panels and plants on islands in just a few weeks, straight from scratch. There’s no chance that any other kind of plant could be brought in from nothing that quickly and efficient.


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