How Much of Our Energy Comes from Solar Power?

In the last couple of years, we’ve been overwhelmed by news about the energy crisis. Now, thankfully, we are beginning to see this as an opportunity instead of a calamity. Renewable energy is now a reality, and the sun, the wind, and water are providing us with an alternative to fossil fuels. But just how reliant are we on these natural resources? Can we rely solely on sun and wind power to meet our energy demands? What is the future of energy?

How Much Energy Do We Get From The Sun?

A common misconception about renewable energy is that we can’t rely on it because it’s not reliable. But that couldn’t be more wrong! The sun is a 24/7 source of energy that never runs out. We’ve all seen the sun brightly illuminating our sky, but did you know that it provides us with enough energy to meet our current demands?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2015 the total electricity output of the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry (which includes solar thermal and combined solar thermal and PV) was 239 TW·h. Not only is this enough to completely power the United States, it’s also enough to supply about six percent of the world’s energy needs. For comparison, the EIA estimates that in 2014 the power generated by all other renewable energy sources combined was about 239 TW·h. So why, then, are we still relying so heavily on fossil fuels?

The Decline Of Fossil Fuels

It’s not that fossil fuels are bad; it’s just that we have to consider the source of most of our energy. In 2015, fossil fuels provided us with 54% of our energy needs. By 2040, EIA predicts that this number will have dropped to 23%. As it stands now, we are highly dependent on fossil fuels. But this will change in the near future, as renewable energy sources begin to take over.

Renewable energy is more expensive than fossil fuels. That’s why it’s not feasible for most people to invest in solar power plants to produce electricity. But despite the high cost, the economics of clean energy are still favorable when compared to fossil fuels. In 2015, wind power and solar power were the cheapest methods of producing electricity, according to the EIA.

The Rise Of Renewable Energy In 2015

The cost of solar electricity has decreased so much that it’s now competitive with fossil fuels in many parts of the world. This is due in large part to government subsidies (more on these later). In 2015, solar power was the cheapest form of electricity production, according to the EIA. Furthermore, as the cost of solar electricity continues to decline, more and more people are able to reap the benefits of this energy source. At this rate, we’ll see a massive shift to renewable energy.

In the past year, a number of countries have made moves to promote renewable energy. In November of 2015, Germany became the first country to pledge to generate 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. In addition to Germany, a number of other countries, such as France, the Netherlands, and Italy, have made similar pledges. If these countries stick to these goals, it could have a massive impact on global energy production and consumption. For example, if half of Europe’s energy demands were met by solar power, that would be enough to power the entire continent!

Do We Need Government Subsidies To Make A Difference?

One of the major factors contributing to the cost-effective production of solar power is government subsidies. The cost of solar electricity varies by country, but in general, it’s cheaper to produce in some places than in others. One of the reasons for this is that governments throughout the world provide financial incentives to developers and manufacturers of solar products. These subsidies, which vary from country to country, can be either direct or indirect.

Direct subsidies are paid directly to solar power companies, while indirect subsidies are paid to manufacturers or developers of solar products. In general, direct subsidies are more expensive than indirect subsidies, but they guarantee a revenue stream into the government treasury. The cost of solar power varies from country to country and also changes over time depending on the current phase of development in a given country. For example, China currently provides a 10% subsidy for solar power, while Germany and Canada offer a lot less – about two to three percent.

These government subsidies are both necessary and beneficial. Without them, the cost of solar power would be too high for most people to justify purchasing it. In fact, as mentioned above, Germany is the first major country to provide financial incentives to those pursuing the solar energy industry. This policy has resulted in a 25% increase in installations of solar power plants in Germany since 2010.

The Growth Of The Solar Energy Industry

The global solar energy industry has seen an incredible boost in demand due to government incentives and subsidies. As mentioned above, Germany currently offers a variety of incentives to those interested in solar power. For example, businesses there can get a 30% subsidy on their solar panels, and residential customers can get a feed-in tariff that provides them with cash paid by electricity sellers for each solar watt produced by their panels.

This is a trend that is likely to continue. In fact, according to an MIT report, by 2030 there will be more solar electricity generation globally than fossil fuel generation. This is due in large part to decreased costs coupled with government support. China is the largest producer of solar power in the world, followed by the United States and Europe. Japan and India also have significant investments in solar energy.

The Benefits Of Solar Energy

Apart from being an environmentally sound energy source, many studies show that solar energy provides a number of benefits to human health. Solar radiation prevents some forms of cancer, and it can alleviate symptoms of other diseases. Furthermore, solar power has been shown to improve mental health and increase life expectancy. Finally, some studies suggest that increased solar activity is correlated with a drop in global temperatures, so it could also play a role in mitigating climate change.

Even if we don’t rely on solar power for electricity production, we can still take advantage of its benefits. People in Germany and other parts of Europe enjoy the sunniest climates in the world, so this is the perfect place for vitamin D production. That’s why it’s important to cover your arms and legs during the day when you’re outside, as this allows for the better absorption of sunlight by your skin. The MIT report cited above also notes that covering up during the day keeps your skin cool and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.

So, while we’re still in the beginning stages of transitioning to a renewable energy economy, the benefits of solar power are too good to ignore. The environmental impact and decreased need for non-renewable energy are certainly enough reason to embrace this clean energy source, as it provides us with a sustainable energy option that can decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. But the health benefits alone make it an economical and feasible option as well.

So, what will the future of energy look like? Will we continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels? Or will we follow the lead of Germany and other countries, and begin shifting to environmentally friendly, renewable energy? It’s unlikely that we’ll stop using fossil fuels altogether – they will still be around for another forty years at least – but at least we’ll see a decrease in our energy consumption and an increase in renewable energy generation.

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