Movers and SHAKERS
Is Solar Energy the Way of the Future?
The race to find an alternative renewable energy source has been ongoing for decades. The most popular and sustainable option available at the moment is solar power. Solar energy comes from each particle of sunlight called a photon. Every single one that reaches the Earth contains energy inside that fuels our planet. Solar power is responsible for all of our weather systems and theoretically, enough solar radiation hits the surface of the planet each hour to fill our needs for nearly an entire year. It could be converted to useable energy using photovoltaics and could play an important role in global energy in the future. We will have access to solar energy as long as the sun is alive, which according to NASA is about 6.5 billion years.
Abundant and Sustainable. As opposed to non-renewable energy sources, solar energy cannot be depleted. The energy we generate from fossil fuel will one day run out, while we will have access to solar power as long as the sun stays in the sky. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation, which is 20,000 times more power than what we need to supply the world. Solar energy can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Meaning, it is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume. Solar power is available all over the world, it is not necessarily only the countries that are near the equator.
Lower Monthly Costs. Solar energy can either drastically reduce or completely eliminate your electric bills. By generating your electric, you become less reliant on your electric company. There are also a couple of solar incentives in the U.S. that can help you earn profits. Homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity or receive bill credits when they produce more electricity than they consume. Installing solar panels would also provide you with more control over rising energy costs. Electric bills can be very volatile because in most cases there is nothing you can do about controlling the electric rate. The cost of electricity has risen by about five percent in the last decade, while solar energy has decreased by more than 70 percent. Once solar panels have been installed, it can last twenty to thirty years without needing major maintenance, normally only requiring minimal repairs.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. Solar is a clean, renewable source of energy that can help us reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are released into our atmosphere. When fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity, they release harmful gases that are the primary reason for air pollution and climate change. Unlike the typical energy sources, solar does not lead directly to pollutants being released. Not only would the switch be beneficial to the planet, but overall public health will also be improved. Our air and water supply are affected by the burning of fossil fuels, by replacing it with renewable energy sources we can increase human health and reduce premature mortality. This is perhaps the most admirable advantage of solar power, helping us make the necessary transition away from fuel.
Different Costs. The initial cost of purchasing and installing a solar system is fairly high. There are many different necessary parts of the system, and all will one day need to be replaced. The average solar panel system costs about $12,516 after tax credits. Although there are several solar financing options to help, not everyone has the immediate cash on hand for an investment like this. Also, the storage of solar energy is expensive. It either has to be used right away or stored in large batteries. This is required because when the sun is not up, the stored power is needed to keep everything running. It is normally more cost-effective for households to use power during the day and then take energy from the grid during the night.
Weather Dependent. Although solar power can be collected during cloudy days, the efficiency of the system drops dramatically. These panels rely on sunlight to gather energy, so a few rainy days can have a noticeable effect. Predicting overcast days can be difficult, because of this solar power is not always dependable. Resulting from differing weather patterns, solar-powered households will not be ideal everywhere. The efficiency of solar power drops dramatically the farther away you get from the equator. This does not mean that they will not work in overcast areas, but they will for sure be less cost-effective. Also, depending on what season you are currently in, the panels will collect different amounts of power.
An Immobile Eye Sore. Solar systems require a large amount of space to collect energy. The more electricity you want to produce, the more solar panels you will need. Some roofs are not big enough to store the panels, requiring them to be installed in the yard. Not only do these panels take up a lot of space but they are also not the most attractive decoration. It also may not be the best investment ff you are planning on moving within the next ten years, as it takes time for the investment to pay off and the panels cannot be moved.
Expensive but Sustainable. The process of switching everyone over to solar power would not be an inexpensive task, but it could provide us with continuous power indefinitely. Once the system is installed you should not incur a lot of maintenance costs, but the batteries needed to store power that can be used when the sun is not up, are very pricy. The biggest advantage of converting to solar energy is the lessening of greenhouse gas emissions. Although solar power systems do not directly contribute to these gases being released into the air, the transportation and installation of the structure are associated with some toxic materials that can indirectly affect the atmosphere.
https://news.energysage.com/how-much-does-the-average-solar-panel-installation-cost-in-the-u-s/, Sara Matasci July 2, 2019
https://news.energysage.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-solar-energy/, Luke Richardson, June 2, 2019