As fossil fuels continue to dwindle while the increasing effects of climate change continue; alternative sources of energy have become a new source of energy for individuals and businesses that are interested in fighting climate change while saving money at the same time.
Scientists have noted that we have two problems that have caused governments, the private sector and individuals to start thinking of alternative sources of energy. These two problems are:
- Energy problem i.e. fossil fuels are being depleted than they are generated through the photosynthesis process; hence not a sustainable source of energy. For fossil fuels to form, they require millions and millions of years of solar energy stored as chemical energy. Also since fossil fuels are dwindling at a faster rate than they can be consumed, the technology for their extraction needs to be advanced to retrieve fossil fuel leftovers.
- Scientists have noted that the burning of fossil fuels is producing greenhouse gases (GHG) like carbon-dioxide that is trapped through the greenhouse effect and stored in oceans and the atmosphere leading to global warming and climate change.
As a result, many countries and businesses, as well as individuals, have developed solutions to counteract and move towards sustainability. Alternative energy sources such as wind and solar are currently being used on a large scale and in the USA alone, cumulative solar, wind and other renewable energy capacity additions by 2016 stood at 221GW.
When it comes to solar energy, it ranks number three in cumulative capacity additions behind wind and holds the fastest-growing renewables record at 60% since 2008.
Is Solar Worth it? why is solar PV needed in this day and age?
In addition to fighting climate change and as an alternative to the dwindling fossil fuels, solar energy is needed for various applications which will be explained here briefly. However, before we list these solar energy applications, let us explain the science behind how solar panels work.
1. The science behind solar panels
For you to harvest and start using solar energy, you need solar panels that are made of photovoltaic (PV) material. PV is made of silicon material which has loosely held electrons which are excited when struck with sunlight in a process known as the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect is the process by which solar light is directly converted into voltage or current. For more information on how solar panels work, click here.
2. Solar PV applications
Solar PV has very many applications including but not limited to powering airplanes, urban power applications, remote power applications, agricultural applications (solar-powered water pumps), PV powered street lights while campers can use solar power gadgets such as solar chargers or solar lights to provide power for lighting, appliances and other uses.
There are many solar energy companies that can provide you with advice and professional help if you are interested in using the above solar applications to meet your power needs, especially if you travel or live in remote parts of the country or even for agricultural applications (solar-powered water pumps). Many remote places in the world have applied solar technology to help them in lighting their homes, streets or powering agricultural water pumps. To learn more about solar PV equipment used for solar lights, solar survival gear, solar panel components, and solar power gadgets
With all these solar PV applications, it is clear and we can answer the question: Is solar worth it? when we consider these applications of solar PV listed above, including powering airplanes such as Solar Impulse 2 which made it around the world, 40,000Km, recently without fuel.
In addition, to the above solar PV applications, PV is applied in supplying power to homes, households while utility companies can use PV to generate solar power on a large scale in the range of 1 megawatt (MW) and above. If you are interested in going solar and you are wondering where to start depending on your needs or uses below is a breakdown of solar PV applications and how you can determine how much you can generate for your business or house.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, PV systems are divided into three categories:
- Residential solar PV systems: These are designed for residential homes rooftops in both urban and remote areas of the country. These PV systems are less than 20kW (kilowatts) and by 2016, the USA had more than 1 million homes using solar PV. Many homes use these systems to help them conserve energy and the environment while saving money. Such systems can save a homeowner from anywhere from 25% to 75% of their current energy bill. For instance, if you are spending about $200 in electricity costs you can save between $50 to $150 per month. To find out how much you can save for your specific situation, please check with online solar tools to determine your solar panel cost and savings. Check with EnergySage and determine how your solar energy profile would look like.
- Commercial solar PV systems: These are solar power systems with a capacity ranging between 20kW to 1MW and are normally installed in the rooftops of commercial establishments. Today many and many commercial places have gone solar, including well-known companies in the USA such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Walmart, IKEA, Staples, etc have installed these commercial solar PV installations in the process saving huge savings while reducing their carbon footprint. Commercial PV systems are also being applied to power telecommunications base-stations used in communication as part of a wireless telephone system such as cellular CDMA or GSM cell site. ICT companies have also used such systems for corporate and social responsibility (CSR) and reducing the data center’s carbon footprint. Many other companies that have gone solar also do it for CSR and environmental reasons. To learn more about your company’s solar energy company profile, including how much you can save with solar, check with EnergySage.
- Utility Grade Systems: These PV systems are over 1MW and are usually large solar farms with an array of modules. These are owned by utility companies to power homes and businesses through transmission and distribution lines over long distances.
In conclusion, solar PV is worth it as it it can be applied in very many applications as captured above. It is also an alternative to the dwindling fossil fuels and fighting climate change.