When the going gets tough, the tough go solar! Or in this case, wind- and solar-powered. Renewable energy is the key to a sustainable future and that’s something that kids are starting to understand. In fact, studies show that kids are more likely to be inspired by environmental topics than by traditional hobbies such as football or cars. So it should come as no surprise that they would find plenty to love about solar power, with all its futuristic glimmerings. Which is why we’ve curated this ultimate collection of kid-friendly solar stories and photos, spanning from the nineteenth century to the present day. Whether you’re an experienced solar power player seeking some new inspiration, or a parent looking to ease your kids’ environmental angst, this book is bound to delight.
The Early Years
It all started way back in the 1800s, when Englishman Edmund Stoddart was experimenting with lighting fires using sunlight. His ideas took off and within a few years, banks and businesses were ordering solar lights in bulk to illuminate their buildings and roads. This gave birth to the modern day solar industry, which continues to flourish today. In the United States, most states had laws limiting the amount of power that homes and businesses could generate, so early pioneers were forced to innovate ways to utilize solar power. This is when the “roofs off” design was born – allowing homeowners to harness the power of the Sun once the roof was replaced by a solar-collecting panel. Today, over 250 years later, the solar industry has grown to become one of the largest and most influential industries in the world. With companies such as Tesla and Apple incorporating solar energy into their products, the future of energy seems more promising than ever before.
From Rooftop to Street
Over the years, homeowners have taken the freedom to harness their rooftops and have set up shop, selling solar energy systems to neighbors and strangers. Large-scale commercial solar farms followed, expanding throughout the United States and Canada in search of affordable, sunny land. This culminated in the mid-twentieth century, when utility-scale solar power became possible. In 2018, the United Nations estimated that there were over 4.9 billion people worldwide who lacked access to energy, with the vast majority living in developing countries. The UN further stated that by 2030, these people will have access to electricity, helping to combat global poverty and environmental issues.
The Continuing Saga
While the sun has been the source of much inspiration for those seeking a sustainable future, it’s not the only option. The wind is another natural force that can be harnessed to generate electricity, helping to power homes and businesses across the globe. Just like with solar, the wind industry grew rapidly during the twentieth century, with early pioneers constructing large windmills to extract the energy from the wind. In 1922, the United States passed the Nation’s Wind Power Law, which encouraged homeowners to go green and harness the power of the wind. Today, there are over 600 million megawatts of wind power capacity worldwide, with an estimated 23 million tons of wind debris removed annually. As with solar energy, wind power will continue to grow in significance, with governments setting ambitious targets to meet the energy demands of their citizens.
Traditional energy sources such as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants gave way to renewable energy as these new technologies became available. In addition to solar and wind, other power sources such as tidal power and wave energy have been used to generate electricity. While these methods of energy production are more reliable than wind and solar, unfortunately, they’re also more expensive. The upshot is that renewable energy prices remain relatively high, which deters many businesses and homeowners from adopting these energy sources. The good news is that as these technologies become more refined and sustainable energy alternatives become more accessible, the cost of renewable energy will inevitably come down. This, in turn, will encourage more people to switch to renewable energy sources and help to make a dent in the world’s energy problems.
Taking Sustainability to the Max
All these years later, the drive to reduce energy usage and dependence on fossil fuels remains strong. To this end, Tesla and others have gone so far as to manufacture electric vehicles that run on solar power alone. Homes and offices have also upgraded their equipment and adopted energy-saving measures, cutting back on their energy consumption. This is why renewable energy sources will continue to grow in significance, providing a sustainable future for the planet and those who live on it.