Climate change is upon us and that is very much obvious with what is happening to the world today. No matter what country you are from, the more extreme weather conditions are really something that you can’t deny anymore. Fortunately for us, we already have the technology that can help us overcome this problem and that technology is solar energy or solar PV. But with all the other energy sources and technologies out there, why do we think that solar energy will be the energy of the future? This article explains in detail the reasons.
Solar PV is Technology-Based Rather Than Fuel-Based
Fossil fuel energy sources, along with nuclear energy work by extracting energy from a certain type of fuel, which can be coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear fuel. The problem with these energy sources, aside from the availability of the fuel, is that there is a limit to how much the technology used for these can improve. For example, the technology that we use to extract energy from coal has peaked a long time ago in terms of efficiency and overall quality. However, the fuel has stayed the same and cannot be improved further.
On the other hand, solar PV technology has been improving, along with the dropping costs over time. In fact, the improvement of solar PV technology is comparable to Moore’s Law that states that the amount of computing power on the devices that we use doubles every 18 months or 1 ½ years. These improvements in the technology along with the manufacturing processes, causes the amount of global solar PV capacity to rise exponentially and the costs for PV modules to drop also exponentially. For the last 30 years, this exponential trend has been continuous.
These improvements are also true with the efficiencies of the available PV modules in the market today. PV module manufacturers are also heavily investing in research and development, which is why the PV modules that they are offering the market only get better and better through time.
The ability of solar PV to continuously improve over time is something that is unique to this technology and is unparalleled by any other energy sources. You can think of it this way, the efficiencies of PV modules that are available in the market today range from around 15-20%. However, efficiencies of 40-50% have already been achieved in laboratories around the world and it is only a matter of time before PV modules in the market also become this efficient. So definitely, solar PV still has a very large room for improvement.
Solar Energy is a Form of Decentralized Energy Generation
Ever since we have started using electricity, we have produced these in large power plants that are located some distance away from houses and businesses that need them. This is called centralized energy generation. All other energy sources are also types of centralized energy generation because they also require large power plants to generate energy in large quantities. This is inefficient because there are a lot of losses that occur when energy is transported from the power plants to the cities and provinces. Aside from this, they also require large investments in terms of infrastructure to form our electric grid and deliver energy reliably to the consumers. Lastly, also because of this fact, centralized energy generation can only be controlled by large businesses, which allows them to control the price and raise it for their own personal gains.
Fortunately, another property of solar PV that is entirely unique to it is that it is a form of decentralized energy generation. This basically means that you can generate power right where you need it. With solar PV, you can generate power right on your very roof and deliver that generated power straight to your house for your personal consumption. With this setup, you become an independent power producer and reduce your reliance to the electric grid. This can be achieved by solar PV because of two principal reasons:
- Solar PV is modular – this basically means that with solar PV, you can practically build a power generating unit with any rated capacity that you need, no matter how small it is. Solar PV can even also be used to power individual devices like GPS receivers, calculators, weather stations, etc. This allows solar PV to be deployed anywhere that you need electricity, even those that are in remote locations and cannot be reached by the electric grid. For other energy sources, this is practically impossible because of both technology and cost constraints.
- The sun is available everywhere – another reason why solar PV can be a form of decentralized energy generation is the fact that its energy source, which is the sun, is available everywhere. Although the amount of sunlight that reaches you depends on your location on the globe, there is usually ample amount of sunlight that is still available for solar PV to be feasible. The only limitation that solar PV has in terms of the availability of the sun is with shading that can come from nearby houses, buildings, trees, electric poles and many more.
Solar Energy: The Energy of the Future
We all know now how our energy consumption is hurting the environment because of our continuous burning of fossil fuels. What’s worse is that we don’t just have to believe what the climate scientists are saying because we can see and feel its effects every day. The earth is getting warmer and warmer which causes us to experience more and more extreme weather calamities like typhoons/hurricanes, floods, heat waves, extreme colds and many more.
Fortunately for us, we already have the technology that we need to replace fossil fuels as our energy source. And with the continuously plummeting costs of PV modules and other solar PV components, this technology is now much cheaper than coal. Now, the takeover of solar PV on coal as our primary energy source is not any more a matter of if, but when.
However, we are still a long way ahead and there are still a lot of things to do. And the only way for us to win this battle is if we work together.
Together, and with the use of solar energy, let us help make the world a better place. Visit our website, www.andalsolar.com, to join the solar revolution and help the world transition to this cleaner and better energy source.
For aspiring solar PV engineers, you can also check out our Solar PV Engineering Ebook on Amazon on this link.