If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re either passionate about climate change or interested in switching to an eco-friendly mode of living. Both of these topics are so complex that they require in-depth research and an open mind to fully understand the issues surrounding them. One of the most polarising topics in all of climate change research is solar energy. Depending on who you ask, you’ll either get an entirely different opinion on the subject or a complete dichotomy. This is mainly because the general public has been bombarded with misleading information for so long that they now have a very skewed perception of what solar energy is and how it works. Although there are certain facts about solar energy that are not disputed, it still remains one of the most misunderstood and mistrusted forms of renewable energy.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
When we look at the night’s sky, we are overwhelmed by the ever-changing splendor of lights that fill the night’s sky. Despite the fact that the Sun sets at night and we cannot see it directly, this huge ball of fire has somehow managed to illuminate the entirety of the universe. Our own galaxy is also awash with dazzling stars that seemingly twinkle at us from beyond the black velvet of space. The Sun does not only provide us with enough energy to sustain life on Earth, its rays are so potent that they can be harnessed and used to generate electricity.
This is essentially how solar energy works. The Sun’s power is so concentrated that it can be collected and stored in large solar farms throughout the world. These solar farms use large arrays of photovoltaic cells to convert the Sun’s energy into usable electricity. This electricity is then distributed to local businesses and homes through a system of wire and copper cables. The wires can either be above ground or underground, depending on where you are located in the world and existing infrastructure.
Is Solar Energy Good or Bad For The Environment?
The simple answer to this question is both. On one hand, the Sun’s energy is entirely benign and has the potential to provide us with an infinite supply of clean electricity. On the other hand, the minerals and metals used in the manufacturing of solar panels are extremely polluting. The type of solar panel you’re using (crystalline silicon or polysilicon) can also have a significant impact on the environment. In countries like China, India and the USA, the manufacturing of solar panels has become so industrialised that it’s caused severe damage to the environment. The Chinese government has actually set a deadline for companies to stop using or producing certain toxic elements in their products, by 2025 at the latest. Fortunately, the manufacture of solar panels has also become so technologically advanced that it’s almost impossible for any of these elements to escape during processing. Newer and more efficient solar panels also use less toxic elements which means that they’re less damaging to the environment.
Are There Any Other Renewable Energy Sources That Are As Eco-friendly As Solar Energy?
Renewable energy is electricity generated from natural resources that can be replenished through natural processes. The majority of renewable energy sources are environmentally friendly and can be used to generate electricity without causing any damage to the environment. The most popular forms of renewable energy include solar energy, wind energy and hydroelectric power. The only major drawback of solar energy is that we need to generate enough electricity to cover our daily demands which means that we’re going to need to build more solar farms than we would for our own daily needs. This is why, for the time being, renewable energy is not a 100% dependable source of electricity. Even then, it’s still considered to be one of the most promising alternatives to fossil fuels. When we run out of fossil fuels, the Sun will still be shining and generating electricity.
Why Do People Still Doubt Solar Energy?
People still doubt solar energy because of all the misinformation that has been circulated about it over the years. It has long been claimed that solar energy is too expensive, too unreliable or too environmentally unfriendly to be viable options for future power generation. While there’s some truth to all of these claims, this is certainly not the whole truth. Let’s take a quick look at each one of these issues and how they’re really not as bad as they’re made out to be.
The first claim that people frequently make is that solar energy is too expensive. While it’s true that the price of solar panels has come down significantly over the years, the cost of generating electricity from solar farms still remains high. This is mainly because of the subsidies that are often provided by governments to encourage renewable energy use. In some cases, governments will provide banks with low-interest loans to solar companies in order to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change. In other cases, they’ll allow investors to purchase electricity at a preferential rate which makes it even more affordable for commercial and residential customers. In most cases, the installation costs for solar energy systems are also quite high. This means that unless you have a huge lawn or patio, you may not want to invest in solar energy. Despite this, the cost of solar energy has decreased so much that it’s now cheaper to install solar panels than to maintain a constant feed of electricity from traditional power plants. This makes solar energy more affordable than ever before.
Is Solar Energy Reliable?
The reliability of solar energy is one of the primary reasons why people avoid it. After all, the sun doesn’t always shine and when it does, it can be incredibly distracting and difficult to keep track of things like clocks, trains and schedules. As the world becomes more digital, the idea of collecting reliable power from an unruly power source is just not appealing. If you think that the power will always be there when you need it, you’ll be more likely to use it which means that it will reduce your electricity bills and ease the dependence on fossil fuels. While this may be appealing, it’s important to remember that the sun doesn’t always shine which means that you may not always have power when you need it. The best way to deal with this is by having a back-up power supply ready just in case. In the event of a power outage, your back-up power supply will automatically switch on and generate electricity which prevents you from potentially losing all your electronics should the electricity suddenly stop.
An eco-friendly, renewable energy system can provide you with a backup power supply ready to go at all times. This will eliminate the fear of losing power unexpectedly which may cause you to behave in a way that’s not environmentally conscious. Some people choose to use giant squirrels as back-up power supplies, I mean who doesn’t love a giant squirrel with an extra set of eyes and mechanical skills? Just kidding.
Is Solar Energy Too Environmentally Unfriendly?
It’s not uncommon for people to believe that solar energy is too environmentally unfriendly because of the way it depletes resources. Even though there’s some truth to this, this doesn’t have to be the case. Let’s take a quick look at how solar energy utilizes resources and whether or not it’s actually eco-friendly. First off, solar energy does not deplete any natural resources during its creation process. All the raw materials used in the creation of a solar panel are either recycled or replenished through natural processes. The reason that resources are depleted during the manufacturing process is because there’s a lot of waste which needs to be cleaned up once the panel has been created. This means that the impact of solar energy on the environment is negligible. There are also many cases where solar energy has proven to be an effective way of reducing pollution. If you live in a country where the air is already clean, generating electricity with solar energy may not cause any damage to the environment. In heavily polluted areas, solar panels can simply be taken down and cleaned which prevents much of the toxins from reaching our atmosphere. In 2018, Singapore became the first country in the world to commit to getting all its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Should You Still Avoid Solar Energy?
Even though there’s some truth to all of the previous claims that people make about solar energy, it’s still an extremely promising alternative energy source. The fact is that none of these issues are as bad as people make them out to be and in many cases, they can be completely averted should you be smart enough to take advantage of this information.