Solar energy has become an increasingly popular topic of discussion in recent years, with many influential personalities emphasizing its environmental benefits. However, people often need clarification on the benefits of solar energy. This article explores the eco-friendliness of photovoltaic systems and why they are worth considering as renewable energy sources.
Reducing Our Reliance on Fossil Fuels
One of the most significant benefits of adopting solar energy is that it allows us to detach ourselves from relying on fossil fuels for our energy needs. This shift is crucial because fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which can have implications far beyond global warming. The emitted carbon can affect essential organs like the lungs and heart, causing asthma, heart disease, and premature deaths globally. Increased fossil fuel consumption is also decreasing human lifespans. We can reduce carbon emissions and improve global health by adopting solar energy.
Decreased Air Pollution
In 2021, fossil fuels contributed to over 60% of the United States' electricity production, while renewables only accounted for 20% of electricity generation. However, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has reported that a mixture of increased electricity in areas of need with solar energy adoption can significantly reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, among other gases. This reduction will give us more clean air while effectively solving our energy crisis.
Renewables Will Not Deplete Resources
It's essential to note that fossil fuels will eventually run out, and we must find an alternative for future generations. Renewables are good alternatives that could make the need for fossil fuels non-existent in the future. Additionally, making solar panels requires water, but less than traditional electricity sources.
Fighting Global Warming
Global temperatures rise due to two significant factors; greenhouse gases and carbon emissions. Solar panels eliminate both factors, which is why they are considered a vital tool in the fight against global warming. While there are some emissions during the transportation and manufacturing of solar panels, generating electricity using solar energy is emission-free.
Overcoming Environmental Obstacles
While solar energy has many benefits, some obstacles must be addressed to make it more efficient and sustainable.
Toxic Chemical Waste
Creating solar panels produces silicon tetrachloride, a harmful byproduct that can emit toxic fumes and cause soil acidification. However, silicon tetrachloride is recyclable and can be converted into polysilicon, reducing leftover waste. China has already achieved a 98.5% recycling rate for silicon tetrachloride waste, and researchers are working on production methods that eliminate silicon tetrachloride from the process.
Recycling and manufacturing solar panels require small amounts of water. However, solar thermal plants (CSP) have wet-recirculating and hybrid technologies to decrease water usage. Additionally, photovoltaic systems do not need water as a coolant. With better technologies, the need for water will be negligible.
Solar panels require a lot of land space to generate adequate electricity, which is a challenge for many people who see it as a waste of space. However, researchers are looking into ways to increase output in less area, such as by installing more solar panels on the roofs of buildings. Some states are even exploring innovative strategies, such as California, which considers positioning solar panels over canals to manage lands sustainably while saving water and promoting renewable energy.
In conclusion, solar energy is a sustainable energy source with numerous health and environmental benefits. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels can decrease carbon emissions, improve air quality, and combat global warming. Although some obstacles exist, such as toxic chemical waste, water use, and land utilization, researchers continually work to make solar energy more efficient and sustainable. Switching to solar energy is crucial for the planet's future and is a step towards a more sustainable future. With continued innovation and investment in solar energy, we can reduce our carbon footprint and create a healthier, more eco-friendly planet.