1. Most Abundant Energy form
The energy from the Sun is the most abundant form of energy available. In one hour, enough sunlight falls on the earth to produce energy for the entire year for the world. 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use. Compare this with other forms of energy (see figure below) and it clear that Solar is the ultimate solution. We are harnessing less than 0.0001% of what is available to us! Can we possibly meet 50% of our energy needs by 2050 using only solar energy?
The Sun is the star of our solar system and its suppose to meet the energy needs of all planets. There is a reason why it is called 'renewable' or 'sustainable' energy and it is the fact that the Sun's energy is there to stay and it's not diminishing like the reserves of fossil fuel. Fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) are non-renewable, that is, they draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve. The sun's heat also drives the winds, whose energy, is captured with wind turbines. Then, the winds and the sun's heat cause water to evaporate. When this water vapour turns into rain or snow and flows downhill into rivers or streams, its energy can be captured using hydroelectric power. Along with the rain and snow, sunlight causes plants to grow. The organic matter that makes up those plants is known as biomass. Biomass can be used to produce electricity, transportation fuels, or chemicals. The use of biomass for any of these purposes is called bioenergy. Sun is source of infinite energy for our planet.
3. Zero Emissions
Production of electricity or heat from Solar energy does not lead to harmful emissions to the environment such as toxins or green-house gases that lead to global warming and other ill-effects. In fact there are almost Zero emissions during the use of Solar energy for meeting our energy needs. There is also no consumption of precious water. There are now even aircrafts and ships moving around the world on solar power that are causing absolutely no emissions when they move around.
4. No Noise Pollution
There is no noise pollution when producing energy from the Sun (Solar PV or Solar thermal technologies). In fact there is no noise at all. No other form of renewable or non-renewable energy options can do this!
5. Safe and Healthy
Production and use of Solar energy poses very little process hazards. Risks of explosion, fire and chemicals are almost non-existent. Solar energy is hence the safest and healthiest ways to produce energy. See how even very large solar power plants operate safely and quietly.
6. Low Maintenance
Solar energy systems have very low level of maintenance requirements. As there are no moving parts, there is significantly less wear and tear and hence solar panels or heaters are long-lasting (20-30 years).
7. No Running Costs
Solar energy production has very low running costs. Once installed, production of energy is almost 'free' for the lifetime of the system. It's not a surprise that countries across the world are creating winning solar energy policies for their residents.
8. Distributed Generation
Solar energy systems can be independently installed in remote locations. There are more than 1 billion people in the world without electricity connection and just imagine the wonders possible with an independent system in a very remote location where the Sun always shines.
The costs, emissions, safety, security and dependency over the entire supply-chain of energy production and use are very low. Compare that to transporting conventional source of fuel from one place to another. Also independent installation means that the high voltage electrical transmission cables can be avoided to a great extent. Solar Energy might as well be the cheapest power source soon in some countries such as Germany.
10. Future Economy Driver
There is a tremendous scope for research, development and implementation of Solar Energy in the world, especially in countries that are in the so-called sunny belt. Research patents are clearly on the rise in this field. This research is leading to low cost and high efficiency solar cells (e.g. Organic, DSSC, CPV with greater than 30% efficiency). This also has social implications such as job creation and socio-economic development and awakening to a very sustainable energy future. Take the example of China, where Solar energy adoption has grown by leaps and bounds over just few years. many fortune 500 companies (including Google, Ikea) are now using and investing in Solar. Look for the latest job openings in solar energy here.
Recreated from original blog post authored by Nilesh Y. Jadhav at Solarika.org