Solar Energy 

Solar energy is the capture, storage and use of the sun’s energy to generate electricity or to heat and cool our homes and businesses. By harnessing the power of the sun’s rays, solar energy is a clean, renewable and inexhaustible source of energy for us to use.

The Potential of Solar Energy 

The potential of Solar Energy is immense. Already, it is estimated that the total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, land and oceans is roughly 3,850,000 exajoules per year (1 exajoule is approximately the amount of energy released by one megaton of TNT exploding). To put that into perspective, this is more than double the total energy consumed by humanity in 2017 (1,000 exajoules).

At present solar energy only makes up a fraction of electricity generated. But with the increasing need to move away from dirty, non-renewable energy sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear, and the technological advances in solar energy, its share of the energy mix is rapidly rising.

The Rising Costs of Solar Energy

 In recent years, the cost of solar energy has come down dramatically. Solar panel prices have fallen by 70% or more since 2010 and continue to drop, making solar energy more accessible to the public. In addition, governments have introduced various incentive schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, to encourage individuals and businesses to install solar panels and make use of solar energy.

The result is that home and business owners are increasingly turning to solar energy to power their properties. The adoption of solar energy in countries like Australia, the US and Germany shows the potential for solar to become the preferred source for electricity generation.

Advantages of Solar Energy 

There are a number of advantages associated with solar energy that make it an attractive option. Some of the most noteworthy benefits of solar energy include:

1) It is clean energy – Solar energy produces no air or water pollution, meaning that it doesn’t have the same ecological footprint as other forms of energy. This makes solar energy a more sustainable, eco-friendly option for electricity generation.

2) It is renewable – The sun is an infinite source of energy, unlike non-renewable energy sources like fossil fuels which are slowly being depleted. To tap into this infinite potential, all that is needed is an array of solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.

3) It is versatile – Solar energy can be used for a variety of different applications, from providing electricity for homes and businesses to heat pumps for hot water, to powering remote locations.

4) It is cost effective – Solar energy can be incredibly cost effective over time. Not only is the initial cost of installing a solar array decreasing, the cost of maintaining a solar system is low and with the right setup can even generate a profit.

5) It is reliable – Unlike other forms of energy, solar energy is very reliable. Despite the influence of weather and climate, the sun is available almost everywhere, every day and output can be predicted and managed.

The Disadvantages of Solar Energy 

Though solar energy has many advantages, there are some drawbacks. These include:

1) Expense – The initial cost of installing a solar array can be substantial, making it out of reach for some individuals and businesses.

2) Dependence on Location – The availability of solar energy depends on the climate of the region and the availability of sunlight.

3) Dependence on Weather – Since the output from solar panels is dependent on the weather, panels may not produce optimal levels of energy during overcast days and produce zero output at night.

4) Storage Problems – Since the energy produced by solar panels is only available when the sun is shining, it needs to be stored for use at night. This can be done through batteries or connection to a utility grid, so it can be used at night. This adds to the overall cost of a solar array and can reduce its efficiency.

The Future of Solar Energy 

Despite some of the disadvantages, solar energy is quickly becoming the preferred energy source. Governments around the world are investing heavily in solar energy research and incentivizing individuals and businesses to go solar, helping to make solar energy more affordable and accessible.

In addition, advances in technology, better storage options and cost reductions are making solar energy more competitive with other forms of energy. This is not only helping to lower emissions and combat climate change, but is allowing more people to take advantage of this clean and renewable energy source.

The future of solar energy is bright, and with the right incentives and policies in place, more and more people are taking advantage of the clean, renewable and potentially cost-saving benefits of solar energy. By investing in technological advances and making the switch to solar, we can work together to ensure that the world can meet its renewable energy needs without having to rely on non-renewable sources.