Given the acceleration of global warming in recent years, solar energy is fast becoming the go to option for many home and business owners alike in an effort to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions.
Global warming is a very key indicator of climate change. Though used interchangeably, the previous refers to a rise in global temperatures due to the high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while the latter refers to drastic pattern changes in the climate over a long period of time.
Opting for solar energy instead of generating electricity by means of burning fossil fuels can intensely reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). These gases lead to rising global temperatures and inevitably climate change. By going solar, you can reduce the demand for fossil fuels, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and ultimately shrink your carbon footprint.
So how exactly does solar work? Solar energy uses photovoltaic (PV) which converts light energy from the sun into electrical energy by using semiconducting materials such as germanium and silicon that absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. It literally does what it is called; photo meaning light and voltaic meaning electricity, light to electricity.
The electrical characteristics of these materials resemble a conductor which gives minimal resistance to electrical current flow, and an insulator, which almost completely blocks the flow of electrical current.
Solar PV has specific advantages as an energy source, it shows simple scalability in respect of power needs and silicon is largely available. Advances in technology and increased manufacturing scale have reduced their cost, increased the reliability and efficiency of photovoltaic installations, or solar panels as most would prefer to call it.
Solar panels can be used for a wide variety of applications including telecommunications equipment, remote sensing, and of course for the production of electricity by residential and commercial solar electric systems.
Simple routine changes such as switching off the lights when leaving a room and unplugging phone chargers when done charging.
Though solar provides clean renewable energy, initial cost of purchasing a solar system is fairly high. This includes paying for solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and the installation.
It is also entirely weather dependent, though it can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, its efficiency drops. Solar panels are dependent on sunlight to effectively gather solar energy. Therefore, a few cloudy, rainy days can have a noticeable effect on the energy system.
It furthermore needs be used right away, or if not, stored in large batteries. These batteries, used in off the grid solar systems, can be charged during the day so that the energy is used at night. This is a good solution for using solar energy all day long but it is also quite expensive.
Yet another factor to consider when going solar is space. The more electricity you want to produce, the more solar panels you will need, as you want to collect as much sunlight as possible. Solar PV panels require a lot of space and some roofs are not big enough to fit the number of solar panels that you would like to have.
Lastly, transportation and installation of solar systems have been associated with the emission of greenhouse gases. There are also some toxic materials and hazardous products used during the manufacturing process of solar photovoltaic systems, which can indirectly affect the environment. Nevertheless, solar energy pollutes far less than other alternative energy sources.
The Government’s grand plan to promote renewable energy according to the National Development Strategy, Vision 2030 seems to be falling into place.