EnvironmentNatural ResourcesRenewable Energy

Why Is Solar Energy Better for The Future?

In recent years we have seen a shift in mindset, with global governments and organisations committing to achieving ambitious targets for the reduction of carbon emissions, protecting our environment, and ensuring future energy security. Solar energy already plays a key role in achieving these targets and is likely to continue to do so as we move into the next decade and beyond. Here, we explore just why solar energy is better for the future in terms of sustainability.


Sustainability: What Do We Mean?

An important note here!

We often hear the term sustainable being used to describe any process or technology which generates no or less harmful emissions into the environment. Although this is certainly one aspect of sustainability, it is far from the whole picture.

Before we can talk about how the environment and sustainable development are related, it’s important to understand what sustainability actually means.

At its most basic level, sustainability can be defined as: “The ability to maintain or support a process continuously over time”.

This can be applied to anything, including environmental, economic, and social areas. Here, we will explore all these areas of sustainability in respect to solar energy.

Overcoming Challenges

There is no denying that solar power has huge potential, but it also has its challenges. If solar is to play a part in developing a bright and sustainable future, we cannot ignore these challenges and proactively find ways to overcome them.

Some of the biggest challenges the solar industry currently faces include:

  • Addressing the intermittency of solar availability.
  • How to store solar energy in an affordable and sustainable way.
  • Expanding solar infrastructure whilst overcoming land-use concerns.
  • Encouraging the development of policies that help the growth of solar power.
  • Educating the public and correcting myths about solar energy.

How Is the Solar Industry Addressing Challenges for the Better Future?

Below, we will highlight how the solar industry is addressing many of these challenges.

Environmental Benefits

When you think about the reason why solar energy is better for the future, the first thing that comes to mind is its environmental credentials.

Solar power is widely recognised as a renewable and sustainable energy source. This is because, unlike fossil fuels, the sun offers an infinite source of energy, and zero emissions are emitted into the atmosphere during solar energy production. This means that greenhouse gases are fairly negligible (some are potentially emitted during the panel production process) when compared to the huge output of harmful gases created when burning fossil fuels.

But it isn’t just significantly lower emissions that make solar a great alternative to traditional energy production methods. They also eradicate localised pollution, offering a better level of preservation of natural resources. For example, where burning fossil fuels typically results in local air and water pollution, solar energy production does not.

Economic Advantages

Arguably, the environmental benefits of solar should be the main driving force behind the adoption of solar power. But the economic advantages cannot be ignored.

On a small scale, solar power can help homeowners and other residents access a source of cheaper electricity. With government schemes such as the UK’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), solar panels can even become profitable for small-scale producers over time.

On a larger scale, solar panel production, installation, and maintenance can create economic benefits through job creation and skill development. It can also help remove reliance upon fossil fuels and the countries and organisations which own them – helping enhance energy security for the future.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements in solar panels and their surrounding infrastructure are making them an even more appealing option for future energy production.

Although current technology is already highly-efficient, new research and advancements will help make it even more suitable and applicable to a wide range of scenarios. For example, The introduction of tandem cell panels promises to increase panel efficiency from between 50% and 75% in the near future. It could mean fewer solar panels are needed to meet our energy needs.

Similarly, the ongoing development of thin film solar panels is likely to improve the opportunities for application in areas such as Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIVP).

The rollout of smart energy grids could also help increase the efficiency of where power generated via solar is used. This approach could help overcome challenges with storage and mitigate the benefits of on-demand power generated via fossil fuels.

Technological advancements in solar power could help remove reliance on centralised grids by offering decentralised power generation. This could open up opportunities across the board ranging from improving the range of scientific research in remote areas to generating jobs such as manufacturing in remote communities.

Social Implications

Solar power could also have benefits in the social space, which will help build a more sustainable future.

We have already discussed two of these. The first benefit of solar is that it reduces localised air and water pollution, which improves public health. It also offers social benefits to those that live in remote areas that are ‘off-grid’, providing them with the power they need to benefit from modern technologies and even helping to create jobs.

But even for communities on-grid, solar can be positive socially. By reducing reliance on the grid, solar offers these communities empowerment through the distribution of solar energy systems.

One final social benefit of solar panels, especially their application to residential properties, is their physical presence. This can help generate interest in sustainable living options and can act as a platform for educational programmes around the technical and environmental aspects of solar power.

Also Read: 10 Examples of Sustainable Development.

Solar for a Sustainable Future: Summary

It is clear to see that solar energy already plays an important and growing part in the renewable energy mix. As we get closer to dates aligned with ambitious energy targets we are likely to see solar become even more prevalent around the globe.

It is down to us as consumers, citizens, and business owners to put pressure on local, national, and global governments to drive forward with investment in areas such as solar to ensure a bright future for us all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button