Solar energy is redefining its value in ways the world has never seen before. From Solar panels that work at night, to seethrough solar panes in our smartphones, Solar energy is shining above all other clean energy contenders.
Are conventional energy sources that bad?
The ever-growing demand for fuel or energy has pushed the earth and its inhabitants in harm’s way. Scientists believe that we live in a world with a worrying future that is headed towards an irreversible damage. Statistics are more alarming than ever. In 2019, the total carbon dioxide emission from fossil fuel and cement production was a massive 36.8bn tonnes. Being the dominant cause for global warming, in 2018 alone fossil fuel’s CO2 contribution was 89% globally. And let us not forget the coal mining that breaks the already-fragile nature. Even as a low-carbon energy source, nuclear energy also comes with baggage in the form of problematic radioactive waste.
So, in short, the answer is yes, conventional energy sources like fossil fuel, coal mining have proven to be harmful that affects the quality of air, water and soil then ultimately the existence of living beings.
So, is Solar energy the ultimate clean energy?
Calls for more sustainable and clean energy alternatives such as the Solar energy, Wind power, hydropower, tidal, biomass, etc. are rising than ever. Among these, Solar energy is 100% clean and renewable. It gives users the energy independence. And it is a much more affordable alternative. According to an MIT research, the cost of Solar cells have dropped by 99% in the past four decades.
With solar energy, you do not have to rely on being in the grid or a city. It can even use underutilised rural lands to generate energy. A good example of this is, the solar farm of 45 acres in the UK is producing enough energy to power 2500 households. And with Solar energy, you do not have to fear power blackouts anymore!
Solar energy has a minimum electricity loss compared to long-range copper wired electricity network. Especially the rooftop solar panels records the lowest electricity loss of them all since it does not have to travel long distances.
A recent study showed that, if just 1% of global farmlands were to cover with solar panels, that itself would be enough to meet the global energy need! It is called the agrophotovoltaics. How neat is that!
With novel Solar technologies like Perovskite tandem cells replacing its traditional silicon solar cells has seen the solar energy become more greener and affordable.
Solar Energy is conquering new horizons.
- There are solar panels that work at night. Also called anti-solar panel, this technique based on the warmer solar panels radiating invisible infrared light towards the colder space. This method is said to be generating a quarter of the energy it normally produces during the day.
- Solar energy need not be coming from those bulky rooftop panels, there are many other different forms. The solar paint that brings clean energy to many places is one such a clever idea. It was made possible by semiconductors made from organic molecules that can be dissolved in water. This, in turn, acts as a solar energy collector when infused with paint.
- Tesla’s Solar Roof is another instance where Solar energy can be harvested even smarter. The roof not only protects the building as a normal roof would but also power the household at the same time.
- Solar energy recently broke traditions by generating both thermal and electrical energy from a single solar panel. The processing of heat does not cost any additional energy and is free from Greenhouse gas emissions! This system is said to be cheaper as well costing only 3 cents per kilowatt-hour!
- There is even a translucent solar panel embedded onto the smartphone to gather solar energy that could be used to boost its batteries. This novel method sees the special pane redirect infrared and ultraviolet rays to tiny solar cells built on the side of the smartphone.
- There are Solar trees which takes 100 times less space to produce the same amount of electricity.
- Even the one drawback of Solar panels, the lead (Pb) leaching to the environment by perovskite solar cells (PSCs) will be a thing in the past as scientists successfully created a way to recycle these Pb particles. It is a new adsorbent for both separation and recovery of Pb from PSC pollutants. So Solar panels are good to go!
Where are we at with Solar energy?
Global carbon emission must be zero by 2050 to reach the target of keeping the warming well below 2℃ which would keep global warming at bay. With this in mind, more people are embracing clean Solar energy now. A study shows that,’In Q1 2020, the global use of renewable energy was 1.5% higher than in Q1 2019. The increase was driven by a rise of about 3% in renewable electricity generation after more than 100 GW of solar PV and about 60 GW of wind power projects were completed in 2019. Solar PV is set to increase the fastest of all renewable energy sources in 2020’.
This is the case for the University of Queensland. The world’s first university to use 100% solar energy for their electricity use. Their Solar farm that generates 64 megawatts of energy is based at Warwick. As for others, now is the time to embrace Solar energy for what it really is before its too late!