It seems that every other day, we’re hearing about a new form of renewable energy that’s’solar-dish’ or’sunshine-powered.’ The appeal of these types of energy sources is obvious: solar energy is free (virtually speaking), and there’s an abundance of it. Unfortunately, the appeal also breeds misunderstanding and misinformation. To clear up some of the confusion, let’s take a quick look at solar energy and how it’s different from other forms of renewable energy.
Sunshine, Not Windmills
Although solar energy and wind power are often grouped together, they’re actually quite different. As we’ve established, there’s plenty of sunshine for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that all sources of energy are created equal. Simply put, solar energy is generated by the Sun, and the Sun doesn’t shine equally across the world. For example, the Sun is much smaller in diameter (and therefore appears smaller to our eye) in the Southern hemisphere than it is in the Northern hemisphere. What this means is that, on a clear day, you can get more sunlight in the Northern hemisphere than in the Southern one.
This discrepancy in available sunlight amounts to a significant difference in our ability to generate power from it. Put simply, the more southern we get, the fewer watts of electricity we can generate per day. Conversely, if we go north, we’re going to encounter a lot more sunshine, and therefore be able to generate a lot more power.
Clean, Without The Fear Of Nuclear Fallout
Many people are wary of nuclear power, due to the fear that it will damage the environment. While this is certainly a legitimate concern, it doesn’t have to be. Just because a form of energy is produced by nuclear power doesn’t mean that it’s harmful. In fact, most forms of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, don’t carry the same nasty glow that nuclear power does. This makes them much safer to generate electricity from.
Efficiency Is Key
The above discussion on the difference in available sunlight between the north and south poles serves as a good example of why efficiency is critical when it comes to our reliance on solar energy. The more we can get out of each watt of sunlight, the less reliant we’ll be on fossil fuels. The following video examines several different approaches to getting more juice out of each watt of sunlight:
This video illustrates the importance of efficiency in getting solar energy to power our homes and businesses. If we reduce the amount of wasted energy, we’ll be able to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, and perhaps even end up with some extra electricity to sell back to the grid.
A Better Choice For The Environment
While some may argue that fossil fuels are the energy source of the future, it’s clear that we have to stop relying on them. Alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind, aren’t harmful to the environment, and can be produced in a way that is more sustainable than burning fossil fuels.
It’s true that producing solar energy requires more energy than simply running traditional power plants, which rely on fossil fuels to produce electricity. But that doesn’t mean that all alternative energy sources are created equal. It’s important to do our research before committing to an energy source, in order to make sure that we’re not harming the environment through our reliance on these alternative power sources.
Above all else, it’s important to remember that the Sun will never fade, and it will continue to shine, providing us with endless amounts of renewable energy.