Solar Energy as an Alternative Source of Energy
Since the beginning of the existence of this planet, the sun has been an important resource for sustaining both human and plant life. Plants, which we feed on, manufacture their food by using sunlight. Adequate exposure to sunlight has valuable health effects to humans. In addition, since historic times, man has employed the sunlight as a source of generating energy used for various industrial and household purposes.
Nonetheless, with the emergence of technology, man slowly turned from increased dependence on solar energy and adopted the use of fossil fuels and other forms of energy generation (Morris, 10). It is of essence to note that, with the depletion of fossil fuels, more emphasis is now being put on the use of solar energy as an alternate energy source. However, is its use beneficial, especially in this century?
The sunlight can be used in a number of different ways. Usually, it is converted into electricity through the use photovoltaic cells to power household and industrial electrical equipment. The advantages that the use of solar energy brings have made many people to adopt its use. As the current generation is waking up to the reality that the limited worlds resources are slowly becoming diminished, more emphasis has been put on the adoption of renewable energy sources.
However, despite these facts, some people have continued to milk the planets essential energy reservoirs without thinking of the next generation. Although the cost of a barrel of oil has escalated tremendously during this decade, the worlds thirst for oil has not been quenched.
A number of experts have projected that if the current trend continues uncontrolled, then the worlds demand for oil is likely to escalate by as high as sixty-five percent in the next two decades. Therefore, how will we meet all this demand for energy when the renewable resources are continually being depleted?
As an alternate energy source, the use of solar energy can go a long way in meeting the rise in the global demand for energy (DeGunther, 7). It is important to note that long after the other resources have been entirely exhausted from the face of the earth, solar energy will still be present.
So why have we not completely adopted its use? Some people have claimed that it is more cost effective to generate energy using fossil fuels. This has made renewable energy sources, such as the wind and sunlight, to go untapped. However, it seems as though this in no longer the case.
If the production of fossil fuels is cost effective, then why is it that the worlds consumption of energy far exceeds the amount that is supplied? And why has the grid been unable to meet adequately the increased demand for energy for home and industrial appliances? Currently, power failures are a common daily occurrence. That is why smart people have started to look for affordable alternatives for generating power. No wonder, solar energy have never disappointed them.
It has been said that the use of sunlight for energy generation is more expensive because of the exorbitant expenses incurred while installing the solar panels. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that in the long run, solar panels save more money or they are free once the fixing is done (Benduhn, 4). The meager costs incurred in their maintenance cannot be compared to the costs of the use of other sources of energy. The recovery period for these costs incurred is shorter as compared to the use electricity.
In addition, some governmental agencies are providing ambitious financial incentives for individuals who want to bring the benefits of solar energy to their homes. More over, some utility organizations practice net metering programs in which an individual sells his or her surplus energy to the organizations so as to reduce the costs of electricity bill.
Solar energy equipment also utilizes less amount of energy since they do not require any fuel to ensure that they are running. As a result, they are not directly affected by the ever rise and fall of fuel prices that sometimes leads to increased burdens on the use of renewable energy sources.
The continued dependence on the renewable sources of energy is even more costly. For example, it is approximated that in the United States, the cost of electricity has been increasing at about 6.5% every year for the past three decades (Peter, para. 2). The overwhelming escalation of electricity prices can lead to in the future, if no adequate efforts are done to curb this unprecedented price increase through the adoption of the use of other cheaper alternative sources of energy.
Besides the high costs of of energy, the millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other dangerous chemicals produced annually due to the use of fossil fuels in the generation of energy are causing a lot of destruction to our beautiful planet. If no efforts are made to reduce the emission of the dangerous compounds to the atmosphere, then the future generation will hold us accountable for not adopting the use of other environmentally friendly sources of energy.
Some people argue that solar panels require a lot of space to accommodate them. They say that to , the solar panels should be installed in a wide area of land. As much as this is true, it is not a cause of neglecting the adoption of solar energy as an alternate source of energy. How much land is now uninhabited in many places around the world? This land can be put to meaningful use by installing solar panels in such areas.
In addition, the adoption of some creative strategies can easily defeat this problem. For instance, some households and business enterprises have had their grid-connected solar panels attached to utility and light poles, people with extra space have filled them up with solar panels, and some people have even set up their solar panels on the rooftops.
Interestingly, the installation of solar panels is unconstrained by geographical limits. This implies that one can comfortably install them in the remotest part of a country since energy from the sun is available independently and one does not require a connection to a power or a gas grid for them to function. Therefore, as much as solar panels require adequate installation area, better ways of surmounting this problem are available.
It has been argued that the use of solar energy is dependant on weather conditions; therefore, this makes it to be unreliable as weather conditions usually change constantly. In addition, the opponents of solar energy have put forth that its production is only limited to during the day and hence it cannot adequately meet the needs of energy.
However, these inadequacies can be surmounted by building an efficient backup system or by practicing net metering. Because the production of solar energy relies on the location of the sun, fixing some parts in the solar panels will ensure they function optimally, regardless of the weather conditions.
Even though bad weather is able to lower the effectiveness of the solar panels, the effects are not very much extensive. For example, it has been estimated that even if the U.S. could get at least forty minutes of sunshine per day, it can be adequate to produce more energy than all the fossil fuels it uses on a yearly basis.
Therefore, despite its little inadequacies, the adoption of solar energy as an alternate energy source can reduce the usage of the planets precious fossil fuels that have been estimated to be undergoing depletion at a rate of more than 100,000 times faster than they are being created (Wanamingo, para. 3).
In conclusion, it is without doubt that our continued negligence to adopt the use of solar energy as an alternate energy source puts us in a tricky situation. This calls for the enactment of appropriate energy policies to increase the use of sunlight for the production of energy.
The worlds increased energy needs cannot be adequately met by the use of the of energy. Therefore, the adoption of solar energy, which is abundant, readily available, and can never be depleted, is the best alternative to this problem.