With increasing population growth around the planet and ever-expanding societal expectations, the demand for energy is soaring. At the same time, traditional fossil energy is gradually becoming depleted due to continuous exploitation and this is a serious problem. Furthermore, environmental pollution brought about by conventional fossil energy, global warming and other severe impacts is a concern. This worry for the future fate of humanity is forcing us to explore clean energy options more and more.
The solar energy irradiated on earth is significant. In fact, the solar energy illuminated on the planet in about 40 minutes is quite enough for our global energy consumption needs for a year. Solar energy is almost inexhaustible. And, solar power generation is clean without any risk to the planet or our health. This makes solar power the ideal energy source.
Harnessing the power of solar energy requires photovoltaic conversion using solar cells. It’s different from other power generation approaches in the following ways:
- It’s clean, harmless and inexhaustible.
- It’s not limited by resource distribution issues and geographical environment.
- Electricity can be generated nearby when it’s needed.
- It takes less time to obtain energy and it’s energy-efficient.
Would you believe that about 940 million people across the globe have no access to electricity? While progress in reducing that figure has been steady, we’re still a long way off from solving the problem. Expanding the electricity grid is part of the answer to the question of how to bring power to these people, but it’s not the only one.
Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which make up 90 percent of the world’s unelectrified population, are exploring off-grid solutions including solar home systems (SHSs). Countries in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, which account for most of the remaining unelectrified population, are doing this as well. Incredibly, the global market for SHSs has grown 23 percent a year since 2012, representing more than four million units installed.
Tom Fyans, Interim Chief Executive Officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) which pushes to protect the countryside in the UK, has called for the government to develop a strategy for solar panel installation including prioritizing rooftop units. To quote Mr. Fyans, “Hundreds of thousands of homes, shops and offices becoming a modernized network of rooftop renewable energy is a vision the whole country could get behind.”
Solar energy cannot only be used as an essential source of electricity to solve the energy shortage, but it can also achieve net-zero emissions for us. Solar energy is a key element in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) scenario where it’s predicted that the world can reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This energy source is scheduled to account for an impressive 33 percent of global electricity generation by then.
Truth be told, the new energy sector is probably one of the best positioned to weather the largest global economic turbulence ever. This is due, in part, to a separate macro trend that’s seeing western countries accelerate their building of solar power.