In Southern Ontario where I live we are currently in the midst of a prolonged dry spell. We haven’t had any substantial rain for almost 2 weeks now and the visual evidence of this dry spell is all around. The grass is so dry it snaps when you walk on it and we are now beginning to hear about water conservation efforts by municipalities in the area. These for many are some of the unpleasant attributes about the sun.
However, as I looked out at the bad side of too much sun, I also began to think about the positive aspects as well. Specifically I began to think about how the sun is a viable and bountiful source of energy and one that does not contribute to climate change. While the popularity of the sun as a source of energy is growing, it’s still very small by comparison. To perhaps generate interest and spurn some discussion I thought I’d offer some interesting facts about solar energy that you may not have known.
So without further delay I’d like to share with you 10 FACTS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY:
- Solar energy is a term for describing a range of methods for obtaining energy from the sun. Many people immediately think about solar panels when hearing solar energy but wind, biomass and hydro power are all forms of solar energy. Wind develops through highs and lows in temperature. Wind drives waves. Rainfall, created by sun-warmed evaporated water feeds the rivers that are sources for hydro power.
- Solar Energy is far better for the environment than traditional forms of energy. Generating solar energy does not involve the burning of fossil fuels which is the major contributor to our current climate change crisis.
- The energy output of a 1 KW solar energy unit is roughly equivalent to the burning of 170 pounds of coal and 300 pounds of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
- Solar energy is not a finite resource as fossil fuels are. While the sun is up there it constantly produces all the energy we can use.
- The sun sends enough solar energy in less than an hour to the Earth, that if fully harnessed would meet our global energy demands for ONE FULL YEAR.
- Africa’s Sahara desert, assuming 15% efficient solar cells, could generate more than 450 terawatt (TW) per year. Current annual global energy consumption, including fossil and renewable sources is about 13 TW.
- In recent years manufacturing costs of photovoltaic cells has dropped by 3-5% per year while government subsidies have increased. While to some such facts about solar energy seem trivial, this makes solar energy an ever-more affordable energy source.
- The human use of solar energy is not new. The history of solar energy is rich. Building methods have for many centuries taken account of the sun’s movements in optimizing its warmth and light.
- Da Vinci predicted a solar industrialization as far back as 1447.
- Solar panels on notable building rooftops are becoming more common, with iconic buildings such as The Vatican now turning to solar energy
Turning to solar energy is a significant way that we can work towards solving climate change. What still hampers our ability to fully utilize the sun is technological know how. Our battery storage capacities and even the production of solar generating cells and panels still need further development. However I see this as a positive and an incentive for our youth. When looking at career choices, parents should consider informing and encouraging our children to seek our careers that work towards solving our environmental crisis. These will be the jobs of the future and the jobs that will protect the future for our children and many other generations to come!
While I may lament the sored state of my lawn right now, I still prefer to look at the brighter side of things when it comes to the sun!