Home / Sustainability / Solar Power Is The Light For a Sustainable Future

Solar Power Is The Light For a Sustainable Future

by | Feb 25, 2022 | Sustainability, Utopia

Imagine an endless source of energy that is free, everywhere, and the cleanest of all. And this source is right above your heads. Every second the sun emits a vast amount of energy capable of powering millions of houses.

The earth intercepts 173 thousand terawatts of solar energy continually. Which are thousands of times more power than what the earth uses (MIT).

According to the International Energy Agency, the sun could be one of the biggest sources of electricity by 2050, hence reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 6 billion tons annually.

This can have a transformative impact on the world since it’s been suffering a lot for the past decades.

Solar power is the cheapest way to generate electricity, even cheaper than coal and fossil fuel. Not to mention that fossil fuel is the biggest contributor to CO2 emission.

Meaning that it is a major component for a sustainable future. Hence what is solar energy?

What is solar energy?

Solar power is the energy transmitted by the sun in the form of light and heat. This source is virtually infinite on the scale of human time. This is why it is classified as renewable energy.

As opposed to non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuel which are finite. Every location around Earth receives sunlight over the year except for the polar zone which is deprived of it for up to six months a year.

The amount of solar radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface varies. Solar radiation is light that is emitted by the sun. Solar technologies capture this radiation from photovoltaic panels or solar panels. And turn it into useful forms of energy.

How solar energy is captured?

Thanks to this sun radiation it is possible to produce electricity. It is captured by solar panels or thermal power stations. These installations receive the rays produced by the sun. The solar energy is then converted into electricity.

More precisely, the principle is to transform the energy carried by the photons in the light into electricity. This is where the photovoltaic cell comes into play.

When exposed to light it absorbs the power of light photons. The latter generates a direct electric current which will be converted into alternating current using an inverter.

This electricity produced can be immediately used to operate appliances and for lighting. Technologies for harnessing the sun’s rays to make electricity have evolved enormously in recent years. 

Potential benefits of solar power

Fossil fuels are becoming increasingly scarce. The transition to green sources is changing the way energy is produced and consumed. Solar is clean, infinite and emits no greenhouse gases.

“Even if we didn’t have greenhouse gases, were going to have to move away from fossil fuels, as we’re going to run out. They’re finite, whereas solar and wind are infinite.” – Ted Turner

The raw material which is the sun is free and available all over the earth. Hence insolation has many advantages that propel it to the forefront of alternative sources. Here are some advantages of solar energy:

Price factor

Over the past decade, the price of solar power has fallen by more than 80%. And new technologies still promise to increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce their cost. It should soon become unbeatable in terms of price

Produce cheap electricity

A cheap electricity bill is the priority of most homes. Generating your own electricity from the sun is a simple way to reduce electric bills.

Environment friendly

Solar power produces fewer to no carbon emissions than non-green energy that relies on fossil fuels or coal. It can also contribute to the reduction of CO2 and other pollutants in the air.

Shift toward energy independence

Resources like fossil fuel are limited and cannot be replaced. On the other hand, the sun will keep shining for a very long time and its technology will continue to grow and develop.

Can be used by anyone and everywhere

Wherever people are living, they can access solar energy. Meaning that for those living in places where there is no electricity, solar panels can provide energy without any problem.

To the World Economic Forum, the rapid growth of solar power will continue to decline costs and accelerate the technological progress on the efficiency of panels and the storage of the electricity produced.

Why do we need sustainable sources of energy?

Sustainability means putting in place production and consumption methods that will not affect the planet in the future.

Sustainable energy is the power that meets the current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

For the energy to be considered sustainable, the first condition is that the source that produces it will not exhaust after a certain time. The source must therefore be “renewable”.

The world depends mostly on fossil fuels as it is easily burned to produce electricity. But it is also the reason why you are experiencing greenhouse effects and severe global warming.

Therefore there is a need to use an alternative energy source to generate electricity.

“Solar power is going to be absolutely essential to meeting growing energy demands while staving off climate change.” – Ramez Naam

Solar power is more environmentally friendly than fossil fuel. And using it goes beyond just reducing carbon emissions. It abides perfectly to the definition of sustainability since it can be used forever without affecting its future availability.

Why solar power is the most sustainable source of energy?

Faced with the depletion of fossil fuels but also because of their impact on the planet. Relying on free and infinite energy such as the sun seems an excellent way forward for the world. Here is some sustainable importance of solar power:

Long term energy commitment

As mentioned before the sun provides an infinite source of energy and will keep shining for centuries. And as long as it keeps providing sunlight, it will bring along the benefits of generating green and clean alternative power sources.

Protect the environment

Greenhouse gas and global warming are the biggest environmental concern that your children and you will be facing in a near future. Sun radiation is the cleanest energy and adopting it can reduce the impact of climate change.

It is much safer for humans and the environment since it is much easier to produce and transport as compared to fossil energy.

Not to mention that the transportation of fossil fuel is difficult and needs to travel long distances to reach its final destination. Sometimes it also leads to spillage, thus impacting the environment, marine life and even economies. And the impact can be felt for decades.

Protect land and natural habitat

The earth’s ecosystem is being destroyed for the mining of materials like fossil fuels and coal. Trees are cut down and land is being damaged to build factories and power plants.

But using solar power can prevent damage to land and natural habitat. Since there is no drilling, no big installation or cutting of trees.

Produce safe and clean power source

Fossil and nuclear power are two of the most used power source in the world. They are also sources of all kinds of environmental hazards.

Electricity produced from fossil cause air pollution, resulting in acid rain, greenhouse effect and severe environmental changes. Nuclear on the other hand contaminate water and poison land.

Solar power doesn’t create any of those pollutants making it cleaner, safer and the best alternative.

Help for climate change

The adoption of clean and safe power sources can help to tackle global warming. Which is the most severe environmental problem right now.

Using fossil fuel produce lots of carbon dioxide which is the main reason for global warming. Using sun radiation can slow down or even stop climate change and global warming as it is green and clean.

Non-Polluting to consume

Fossil fuel causes smoke and other forms of pollutants when it is consumed, while insolation doesn’t. All that is needed is a solar panel that captures the energy and turns it into electricity. Creating no waste, no noise or any other output.

The future of solar power

The usage of solar power has seen rapid growth during recent years as well as improvement in its technology and price. Technological developments are making it more accessible to people.

And the use of sun radiation will only expand since the cost of photovoltaic installations tends to fall. Making its exploitation widely popular in recent years.

The general public is encouraged by states around the world through granted subsidies and tax credits. And the cost of producing solar energy is becoming increasingly competitive with that of conventional electricity.

Despite the growth, only about 3% of the world’s electricity comes from the sun. Even if the investment is interesting, some are still reluctant to get started.

It is a huge industry with $141 billion invested in 2019 alone. But it is well behind the $794 billion ($27 trillion by 2050) estimated by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

These numbers show that the world is lagging in terms of renewable development to meet climate agreement objectives and slowdown down global meltdown.

To achieve this target, there is a long list of problems that need to be addressed. One of the problems is that panels are limited to how much sunlight they can convert into electricity.

A lot of improvement has been made over the last decades but that’s not enough. Residential rooftop installation is a nice way for individuals to get involved in clean energy but that also is not enough.

The real solar revolution will likely require large-scale installation. Even if the way of harnessing solar energy has evolved enormously in recent years, there is still an impressive potential and a long way to go.

And according to World Economic Forum, “it may well be that by 2030, the sun will have become the most important source of power for the production of electricity in a large part of the world”.