Many people had to answer that question once solar energy became a thing. The development of an efficient solar cell changed the course of humanity, allowing more people to enjoy bright sunshine and warm temperatures while diminishing our reliance on non-renewable fuels. But while many benefits flowed from this technological breakthrough, there also emerged some significant challenges. Learning how to effectively deploy and utilize solar energy for the betterment of society is no simple task, especially since the principles of solar technology apply to many fields and industries, not just energy production. This blog post will outline some of the biggest challenges facing the solar energy industry as we know it today.
Worsening Global Climate Change & Rising Toxic Dumps
Thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of electric vehicles and alternative fuel sources, our dependence on fossil fuels is diminishing, which is a blessing in itself. But the growing use of solar power isn’t helping to improve matters; quite the opposite, in fact. On a global level, the temperature is rising, causing devastating effects, ranging from flooding to massive forest fires. This is simply unacceptable, and it’s up to solar energy producers to help remedy the situation. In order to better utilize solar power, we need to develop ways to remove the negatives that come along with it.
Solar energy production causes the release of toxic chemicals into the air; some of these are very harmful to our environment. In Germany, for example, solar farms have caused nearby areas to become heavily polluted. In 2016 alone, solar farms in that country released over 500 kg of toxic substances; mostly fluorine, arsenic, and cadmium. Another significant source of pollution stems from polysilicon, a material used to create solar cells and laser diodes. Despite these hazards, solar energy is a clean and sustainable source of power, and it’s crucial for our future that we find ways to utilize it without harming ourselves or the planet. We must also keep in mind that the production of solar power leads to a short-lived rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
Resource Dependency & Security
A significant point of concern is how quickly our energy needs are increasing, and how much we’re relying on a single source of energy to meet them. Fossil fuels, nuclear fuels, and hydroelectric power are all experiencing a major revival, as the world’s population continues to expand and demand for energy rises. The problem is that while these are all extremely beneficial and versatile energy sources, we can’t keep relying on just one form of energy to meet our needs. If we’re to mitigate the effects of climate change, we need to diversify our energy supply and utilize more sustainable energy sources.
In 2016, over 50% of the world’s energy came from fossil fuels, primarily coal and petroleum, even though these are considered dangerous and polluting. It’s clear that we need to keep searching for more sustainable alternatives, and as solar energy becomes more accessible, it will only play a bigger role in providing us with power generation, particularly for remote regions and communities that depend on traditional energy sources for electricity. This brings us to our next point.
If we’re to avoid excessive energy dependency, we need to continue searching for more sustainable alternatives. And since solar energy is a versatile and prolific power source, it’s an attractive option for those seeking to diversify their energy supply and find alternative sources of power.
For those living in regions where solar energy is available, they can generate power through various means, depending on their location and technology used. There’s the traditional method of collecting sunlight through a simple solar panel, and then using this direct current (DC) to power electronics. Another effective way of harnessing solar power is to use photo voltaic cells, which convert light into electricity using a semiconductor material that absorbs the light and creates a current. This is akin to the process of photosynthesis, and it allows for the creation of relatively cheap and efficient solar cells. The ability to generate power from so many different angles and in multiple ways makes solar energy a truly versatile power source, and it will continue to grow in importance as our energy needs expand.
More Power, More Efficiency
Utilizing solar energy isn’t just about generating power; it’s about generating as much power as possible while minimizing the downsides. One of the most significant advantages of solar power is its ability to generate more electricity than we need, simply because there’s more sunshine than we can use. The more sunlight we collect, the more power we’ll be able to generate, and this is something we need to keep in mind when utilizing this energy source.
The same goes for thermal energy, which is basically heat that is either unusable or redundant, depending on the situation. If we’re unable to use excess heat, it’ll just be another source of energy we can’t access. However, with the right equipment and knowledge, we can effectively utilize this wasted heat and put it to good use, increasing the efficiency and output of our power plants.
Rise in Environmental Concerns
Another significant point of concern is how to effectively recycle and reuse materials after their operational lifespan; not just in terms of solar energy, but in general. We’re seeing an upward trend in environmental concerns, particularly regarding our reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels. In terms of solar energy specifically, we need to find ways to lessen our resource dependency and minimize polluting emissions while also generating more power from the cleanest source possible.
As our energy needs grow, so does our demand for clean energy, which is why we’re seeing a rise in alternative fuel sources, such as solar power. But just because these are more environmentally friendly doesn’t mean they’re perfect; learning how to effectively utilize solar power without harming ourselves or the planet is a challenge.
The general public is also more aware of the effects of climate change, and they want to do their part to help prevent it. Learning how to effectively utilize solar energy and minimize our carbon footprint is a crucial step towards sustainability. But until then, we need to keep searching for more environmentally sound ways of powering our homes and businesses.
The above points outline some of the major challenges facing the solar energy industry today, as we look towards the future. But these are problems that can be overcome; we just need to continue developing and improving technologies, manufacturing processes, and infrastructure to support the growing worldwide adoption of solar power.