The world over, there has been a great shift in terms of which energy sources are used. More and more countries are supplementing how much they rely on fossil fuels such as coal. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy are being utilized more and more to meet the world’s increasing demand for energy. On the residential scale, electricity is needed to power a growing basket of appliances. In industry, companies are expanding, producing more, and running their operations for longer, requiring a greater supply of power. Cities and towns everywhere are becoming more populated and more industrialized, and this too requires more power generation. Solar energy is expanding at a fast rate, and this article looks at the reasons for this.
The Increasing Use of Solar Energy
The sun’s energy (solar) is available to all, and people are taking advantage of this by building more solar farms and installing solar panels on residential and commercial properties. The leading consumers of solar energy include China, the United States, Japan, Germany, and Italy, and this usage is only rising.
The numbers speak for themselves. In the last five years, according to Powerweb, an international energy forecast portal, the capacity of solar installations continues to rise yearly. In 2014, 40 gigawatts (GW) were added, and in the following years, 51,77, 99, and 113GW were added respectively. Here are the three reasons why solar energy is increasing in appeal and usage. It is clean, renewable, and affordable.
One of the main reasons for the push for alternative energy sources is that fossil fuels like crude oil and coal are non-renewable. This means there is only a finite volume of these in the earth’s crust. Solar, wind, and hydro energy, on the hand, are renewable. These continue to be generated and are not running out any time soon, so to speak.
Another reason behind the allure of many renewable energy sources like solar energy is that there are clean. No harmful waste products are generated from their use. For fossil fuels, there are a number of harmful effects that come from their combustion. Acidic gases such as sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen are produced. These can dissolve in rainwater to form acid rain which is harmful to buildings and crops. Other waste gases cause air pollution and an increase in respiratory complications. These fuels also produce vast volumes of carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming.
Clean and renewable is great, but when it comes to an energy solution that has the most mass appeal, the cost is a crucial consideration. Solar energy ticks this box as well, and it continues to get cheaper and cheaper. The cost of using solar energy is mainly attributed to the cost of the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. After that, there are really no costly inputs and raw materials because the sun is freely accessible and available to anyone.
The cost of installing solar panels has been declining over the last decade, and there are a few reasons for this. Firstly, as more and more panels are produced and sold, the scale of these mass production operations brings down the cost. Another reason for the reduction is that the technology used in these panels is becoming better. Because of ongoing research and development, cheaper materials are being used and more cost-effective designs are being made. A third reason is that battery technology is also improving meaning that solar energy can be stored better.
There are many applications for solar energy. It can power homes, businesses, and cities. Families and small communities can become self-sufficient when they generate their own power locally. It’s a win-win situation because solar energy is good for the environment and good for your pocket.