Solar Power: Defined
Throughout history, people have used solar power to accomplish various tasks like cooking food, drying clothes and heating homes. It is estimated that the amount of solar energy reaching the earth’s surface in one hour is equivalent to the world’s total annual demand for electricity. This makes solar power potentially one of the best sources of clean, renewable energy. It is an ideal way for countries, businesses and individuals looking for environmentally friendly ways to reduce their carbon footprints.
One of the main environmentally friendly benefits of solar power is that it does not produce greenhouse gases. Unlike the use of fossil fuels, there are no potentially toxic chemicals, off-gases or smoke created when obtaining energy from the sun. The environmental impact of solar power-generating facilities is minimal as many are located in existing structures. There is no damage to the environment or costs associated with the need to extract or refine expensive raw materials like coal, natural gas or oil. After the initial set up and regular maintenance costs, solar power is free. Unlike the finite deposits of coal and oil, solar energy is an unlimited natural resource. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels silently convert the sun’s energy into electricity. As a result, solar power does not create noise pollution.
The solar power industry is also beneficial to the economy. This flourishing industry creates numerous new jobs every year. According to industry trade groups, more than 10,000 solar power-related positions have been created in Europe and over 174,000 in the United States. These jobs include manufacturing, installation and maintenance as well as research and development. The rate of job growth is expected to continue. The value of solar projects also continues to grow. Another benefit is the lowered reliance on oil and natural gas and the sticker shock from their unpredictable market prices that can skyrocket at any time. Because solar power is generated locally, the transmission and transportation costs are reduced. Solar energy can produce power in remote areas without the need to build power lines. It does not require the movement of raw materials great distances by truck, train or pipeline, which means that it reduces the environmental impact of these activities. On a smaller scale, a separate solar panel can provide power for a backyard shed, office or garage without the need to run electrical lines from the house.
Once the solar panels have been manufactured and installed, they require little maintenance to ensure that they are operating at peak efficiency. The panels also have a long service life. The money saved in the long run, offsets the cost of purchase and installation. Advances in technology are lowering the costs of production, making solar panels even more cost-effective going forward. The money that is saved can be invested in other projects.