Solar Energy and Climate Change
Solar energy is turning out to be the best replacement for the conventional energy to fight climate change. Human activities, especially over the past few centuries, have been the bane for our environment. Burning fossil fuels to produce energy, expulsion of chlorofluorocarbons that clog the atmosphere, depletion of forest covers which serve as the lungs of the earth – these are only some of the activities which have led to the serious threat of global warming and irreversible climate change.
In fact, the effects of climate change are now more evident and quite visible – glaciers are melting, winter duration has reduced, weather patterns are changing. The reduction in the number of species that inhabit the planet is a result of global climate change and is a frightening example for the human species as well.
Despite such ominous signs, the advent of technology and the ingenuity of some human beings still gives us hope for the planet. Solar Energy is one of these hopeful solutions for a greener planet. It is a powerful solution to keep climate change at bay, especially if it can reach a massive scale, thanks to its virtually unlimited supply of fuel (the sun) and the large scale of land available to us for its deployment. This form of renewable energy helps in generating electricity using the sun’s radiation.
Even a 1 MW solar power plant can cut down carbon emissions by almost 1000 tonnes per annum, which is equivalent to planting about 5000 trees every year. Of course, trees have the added advantage of producing oxygen as well.
Imagine then, the positive impact that solar energy can have on climate change, if we were to adopt it across institutions and geographies.But let’s drill down and try to understand in detail why Solar Energy is being touted as the ultimate solution to deal with the crises of climate change.
• Solar Energy is a sustainable form of energy which will be a one-time investment and will provide long term benefits to people. Its sustainable nature will protect the needs of the present generation without compromising on the needs of future generations.
• Solar energy poses no threat to the planet as there no harmful emissions of any kind in its production
• Solar energy helps in reducing air and water pollution – Solar pumping water systems actually help in better distribution and conservation of water, and do not emit greenhouse gases and/or other air pollutants in the process
• Solar panels also help in reducing hazardous waste, resource mining (which help chemical industries lower the amount of waste that coal and oil based energy plants produce).
• Solar technology is cost effective, under economies of scale, and will reduce the dependency on expensive fuel and gas, thus, acting as a peacemaker for the customer
• Solar energy diminishes the risk of health hazards like respiratory issues, various kinds of cancers and cardiovascular problems.
Many countries like India, Spain, Germany and China are now leading the rest of the world in the implementation of solar energy.
More than 29 million homes around the world now use solar panels for heating purposes. In the German city of Freiburg, solar panels can be commonly found on hotels, homes, schools, sports centers and hospitals. In Canada, solar energy can provide up to 90 percent of residential and commercial hot water heating at a cost far below the price of heating water with electricity.
Regardless of the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels on global climate, other energy sources will become more important in the future because fossil fuels could run out by the early twenty-second century given the present rate of consumption. This implies that sooner or later humanity will rely heavily on renewable energy sources. Going the Solar Energy way is consistent with the pollution reduction goals established by the Clean Power Plan.
Going Solar will help countries achieve its climate change policies even faster. Planning for the future can and must be done in parallel with promoting strong renewable growth in the present.
Solar energy is already helping address climate change. It’s time to put our feet on the accelerator.
Written By: Priyanka & Manaswita
Edited By: Anirban