How Effective Is Solar Energy Environmental Sciences Essay

Solar energy is beaming energy that is produced by the Sun. Solar energy has been used since 400 B.C. It started to be commercialized during the eighteenth century. In present times, energy emitted by the Sun is harnessed by photovoltaic ( PV ) cells for assorted applications. These include domestic family utilizations, industrial usage, cardinal power Stationss and H2O warming intents. However, due to the technological restrictions, families can non be entirely dependent on solar energy.

Compared to non renewable fuels, solar energy may stand for a cleansing agent alternate solution as it does non breathe harmful waste. In add-on, solar energy requires comparatively low care costs. But on the other manus, photovoltaic cells may be harmful to animal home grounds due to their broad land ingestion. In add-on, the presence of PV cells may interfere with natural lighting, rainfall and drainage. To get the better of such jobs, panels are mounted on roof tops of houses and industrial edifices. Another concern is in the signifier of wellness hazards to worlds presented by harmful substances contained within solar panels. Last, there is a possibility of H2O taint if H2O used for the intent of chilling photovoltaic cells is non treated decently.

Even though solar merely accounts for 1 % of energy used globally, the hereafter of solar energy applications looks assuring. As the universe is progressively concerned about impacts on planetary environment and as more people use solar energy, economic systems of graduated table may cut down solar energy related costs. Many on-going surveies are concentrating on ways to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic cells every bit good as to bring forth electricity from solar energy at lower costs. Such betterments would do solar energy more feasible in the hereafter.

History/Background of Use and Technology


Solar energy is beaming energy that is produced by the Sun. Every twenty-four hours the Sun radiates an tremendous sum of energy. Yet, merely a little part of the energy radiated by the Sun into infinite strikes the Earth. About 15 % of the Sun ‘s energy that hits the Earth is reflected back into infinite. Another 30 % is used to vaporize H2O. Solar energy is besides absorbed by workss, the land and the oceans ( The Need Project, 2008 ) . The remainder could be used to provide our energy demands.

History[ 1 ]

Peoples have harnessed solar energy for centuries. Equally early as the seventh century B.C. the ancient Greek and Native Americans were the first to utilize solar power to their benefit. Peoples used simple magnifying spectacless to concentrate the visible radiation from the Sun into beams so hot they would do wood to catch fire. The first solar aggregator was built in 1776. The solar H2O warmer gained popularity early in 1920s and was in full swing merely earlier World War II. This growing lasted until the mid-1950s when low-priced natural gas became the primary fuel for warming. The populace and universe authoritiess remained mostly apathetic to the possibilities of solar energy until the oil deficits of the 1970s ( Solar Energy History, 2006 ) . Today, people use solar energy to heat edifices and generate electricity. While solar power is normally used today than any other clip in history, the basicss are about the same as they have ever been. The photovoltaic engineering has been updated so that the panels are thin and smaller but the engineering is fundamentally the same.

Uses and Technology[ 2 ]

In past decennaries, solar energy was used widely in different Fieldss of life. Back in 400 B.C. , Native Americans and ancient Greeks built their houses into the side of hills to take advantage of the heat storage from the Sun during the twenty-four hours that would so be released during the dark. On the other manus, Romans were the first to utilize glass Windowss to pin down the heat of the Sun in their places. They were focussed about the saving of solar energy that they erected glass houses to make the right conditions to turn workss and seeds.

During the eighteenth century, legion discoverers came up with different thoughts of merchandises that facilitate use of solar energy. The first solar aggregator built in 1776 would so execute undertakings like infrigidation and motive power. The steam engine built in 1861 used 100 % solar energy. In 1880, the first visible radiation change overing photovoltaic cells were made from Se. 10 old ages subsequently, the first commercial H2O warmer was introduced. In the 1990s, solar power was seen as a great alternate to oil and crude oil merchandises. Therefore, it has been and is being utilised with the aid of engineering in bring forthing power.

Presently, solar energy is used around the universe. It has been introduced and used extensively in industrial applications, residential places and cardinal power Stationss.

Current Uses and Issues of Solar Energy

The Earth ‘s atmosphere absorbs about 3.85 ten 1024 Js per twelvemonth, nevertheless merely a little portion of this energy can be harnessed by worlds due to technological restrictions. Nowadays, solar energy has many applications in around the universe and they are traveling to be discussed along with the issues they can do.

Applications[ 3 ]:

Residential Homes

In recent old ages, there has been a rapid growing in the figure of installings of photovoltaic ( PV ) panels on to edifices that are connected to the electricity grid. This country of demand has been stimulated in portion by authorities subsidy programmes and by green pricing policies of public-service corporations or electricity service suppliers. In these grid-connected systems, PV System supply electricity to the edifice and any day-time surplus may be exported to the grid. Batteries are non required because the grid supplies any excess demand. In most states implementing the engineering, a policy called the Feed-In-Tariff ( FIT ) has been implemented in the system. This policy allows consumers to bring forth their ain electricity utilizing the PV system and to sell it to the grid. This has the possible advantage of cut downing their monthly electricity measure.

The chief drawback of this application is that the monetary value of electricity will finally lift as the bring forthing companies will hold to maintain up their income and therefore the consumers will stop up paying more than they were paying before put ining the PV panels. Furthermore, the PV system can non bring forth adequate electricity at a stable rate for an full place to depend on it. Hence, houses can non be wholly dependent on solar energy with the current engineering.

Industrial Applications

Solar energy has been the power supply of pick for many industrial applications, where power is required at distant locations. These applications are economic and without subsidy. Examples of such utilizations are powering microwave repeater Stationss, Television and wireless, telemetry and wireless telephones. Solar energy is besides often used for transit signalling. For illustration, offshore pilotage buoys, beacons, aircraft warning visible radiations on pylons or constructions, and progressively in route traffic warning signals.

The great benefit of solar energy here is that it is extremely dependable and requires small care so it is ideal in topographic points that are difficult to acquire to. However the PV panels may non be able to bring forth adequate electricity to carry through the electrical demands of the applications on cloudy or showery yearss. Therefore, these Stationss have to be connected to the grid or be equipped with generators working on oil or some other fuel.

Cardinal Power Stations

Solar energy can be harnessed utilizing PV panels to bring forth electricity. The largest solar power station can bring forth 354 MW of electricity. However to bring forth this sum of energy, people have to put in big Numberss of solar panel on a big sum of land, about 6.5 km2. This is really dearly-won. Furthermore, solar energy is intermittent and besides the solar panels have to be invariably adjusted so as to maximize the solar energy harnessed.

Water warming

Solar hot H2O systems use sunlight to heat H2O. In low geographical latitudes ( below 40A grades ) 60 % to 70 % of domestic hot H2O with temperatures up to 60A A°C can be provided by solar heating systems. The usage of solar hot H2O warmers is ideal if full Sun exposure is available and the use is traveling to be moderate.

The cost to put in a domestic solar hot H2O system may be more than the money saved by non utilizing electricity from the grid for heating the H2O. Furthermore, the Sun is intermittent and therefore a uninterrupted supply of hot H2O can non be provided.

Environmental Impact and Issues

To cover with the issue of planetary heating and other jobs raised by non-renewable beginnings, solar energy represents a clean, alternate power solution towards the universe ‘s energy job. One of the chief grounds that make solar energy favorable compared to other is that it is environmental friendly, and the more efficaciously it is consumed, the more opportunities of it replacing fossil fuels as a chief beginning of energy. Although the after-effect of solar energy is mostly positive, the overall consequence should be to the full studied as attempts to detect its possible to travel frontward ( Vaux, 2010 ) . Some of the impacts and countries of concern are land perturbation, infinite consideration, risky constituent disposal and impact to H2O resources.

To bring forth a perceivable sum of energy, a big figure of PV cells are required, which can take up a comparatively tremendous sum of infinite. For the intent of bring forthing electricity at a commercial graduated table, the building of solar energy installations requires relatively big countries for solar radiation aggregation ( Vaux, 2010 ) . Such big graduated table installings may interfere with natural sunshine, rainfall, and drainage, which could hold a assortment of effects on works and carnal life. This translates to an extra job where wildlife protection is concerned. Besides that, solar installations besides may interfere with bing land utilizations, such as farming. One practical solution for all these jobs could be to take advantage of fresh infinite on the roofs of houses and edifices and in urban and industrial tonss ( Vaux, 2010 ) .

Photovoltaic panels may incorporate risky stuffs. Although risky constituents are good isolated under the solar operating system, there is a potency for environmental taint if improperly disposed of ( Solar energy Development Programmatic EIS Information Center ) . For illustration, liquids such as hydraulic fluids, coolants, and lubricators which normally use in most industry installations may show a spill hazard. Other issues are wellness concerns due to the risky stuff used such as arsenic, Si, and Cd. Inert Si can be unsafe if inhaled. Cadmium is highly toxic and can a cumulate in a given ecosystem if it is non monitored ( Vaux, 2010 ) .

Other than land usage impact and risky disposal, H2O resources could besides be affected excessively, particularly the H2O that is required for the chilling of conventional steam workss used to bring forth electricity. In other words, addition in the demand for solar energy would necessitate a immense sum of H2O which could strive available H2O resources. Furthermore, if the chilling H2O is non appropriately treated, pollution of H2O resources could happen. However, this hazard can be minimized by good operating patterns ( Solar energy Development Programmatic EIS Information Center )

Current Future Outlook of Solar Energy

Since the Sun is an ultimate energy beginning, the hereafter of solar energy seems assuring as no other beginning of energy may last forever. Solar power non merely promises a simple and non-polluting energy but besides a renewable beginning of energy ( Locsin, 2009 ) . However, the cost of using this solar energy is comparatively high ( Locsin, 2009 ) . While monetary values for electricity from photovoltaic cells may non go widely competitory compared to sweeping monetary values for electricity from conventional bring forthing engineerings within the following 25 old ages, they may be competitory with high retail electricity monetary values in cheery parts ( EIA a, 2009 ) . In cheery countries, the cost can be every bit low as 23 US cents per kilowatt-hour. EIA ‘s[ 4 ]Annual Energy Outlook 2009 undertakings that, by 2030, nightlong capacity costs for new bring forthing workss utilizing solar photovoltaic cells will be 37 % lower than the 2009 costs ( mention to calculate 1 ) .

The sum of Sun energy that is presently able to be converted to electricity is comparatively low, about 7 % -17 % ( Bellis, 2010 ) . The possible energy that could be extracted from solar radiation is really big. Some experts estimate that the Sun can bring forth 10,000 times every bit much energy as the Earth used at the bend of the twenty-first century ( Ellis, 2010 ) . Entire U.S. installed solar thermic capacity, presently 400 megawatts, is projected to increase to 859 megawatts in 2030 ( EIA a, 2009 ) ( refer to calculate 2 ) . Therefore, to be ideal and remain sustainable in the hereafter, world is suggested to efficaciously reap the energy from the Sun.

As stated in the article, “ Make Solar Energy Economical ” ( 2008 ) , solar energy merely accounts for 1 % of the entire portion of energy consumed. Yet, the chances for bettering solar efficiency are assuring. Current criterion cells have a theoretical maximal efficiency of 31 % . But, add-on of new stuff may foster heighten the efficiency up to 34 % ( Think Solar Energy, 2009 ) . Another manner of bettering the efficiency involves a nanotechnology development which proposes that C nano-tubes may duplicate the efficiency of solar cells ( Think Solar Energy, 2009 ) .

The use of solar energy is expected to increase with society ‘s turning concerns towards planetary heating and other issues related to planetary environment. In other words, to make a more sustainable universe, a great hope is laid on the solar energy. Research workers are besides working on developing engineerings that may let solar energy to be used in H2O electrolysis. The H from the H2O can so be used in fuel cells for transit and other utilizations ( The Optical Society of America, 2008 ) .

Efficiency additions, coupled with other technological progresss, have been proven to cut down the cost of solar photovoltaic capacity from about US $ 300 per W in 1956 to less than US $ 5 per W in 2009 ( EIA a, 2009 ) . The efficiency of solar photovoltaic applications is expected to better farther as the engineering continues to be developed. As such, U.S. solar photovoltaic bring forthing capacity is projected to increase from 30 megawatts in 2006 to 381 megawatts in 2030 ( EIA a, 2009 ) ( refer to calculate 2 ) . Scientists are encouraged to carry on more research in developing cheaper and more compatible solar panels with better efficiency that can vie with that of fossil fuels or other beginnings of energy to hike solar energy ingestion in the hereafter.

Figure 2 -Net Generating Capacity

Figure 1 -Projected Solar Capital Cost

Brief Comparisons of Various Sources of Energy in the Future

The current hereafter mentality for solar energy ingestion and demand show that it will non be the lone turning energy beginning. In the IEO[ 5 ]2009 survey, universe coal ingestion is besides forecasted to increase by 49 % from 2006 to 2030 and from 127.5 quadrillion Btu in 2006 to 190.2 quadrillion Btu in 2030 ( mention to calculate 3 ) . Coal ‘s portion of universe energy ingestion will increase from 27 % in 2006 to 28 % in 2030. The growing rate for coal ingestion is reasonably even over the period, averaging 1.9 per centum per twelvemonth from 2006 to 2015 and 1.6 per centum per twelvemonth from 2015 to 2030. In the electric power sector its portion declines somewhat, from 42 per centum in 2006 to 40 per centum in 2020, and so increases to 42 per centum in 2030 ( EIA B, 2009 ) ( refer to calculate 4 ) .

Yet, behind the promising future mentality, over a span of clip and in the visible radiation of turning planetary heating argument, many consumers would choose for an surrogate more environmental friendly beginning of energy. Chiefly because of harmful coal emanations every bit good as the issue of militias handiness in the hereafter. Advancement in engineering is expected to drive down the use costs of solar energy to the degree where it is able to vie with coal and consumers will slowly get down devouring more solar energy.

Figure 4 – Universe Coal Share Consumption

Figure 3 – World Coal Consumption

World liquids ingestion for the intent of electric power beginnings at the same clip is reported to increase in the IEO2009 mention instance from 85 million barrels per twenty-four hours ( 173 quadrillion Btu ) in 2006 to 107 million barrels per twenty-four hours ( 216 quadrillion Btu ) in 2030, despite universe oil monetary values that remain above US $ 100 per barrel ( in existent 2007 dollars ) from 2013 through the terminal of the projection period ( refer to calculate 5 ) . In the mention instance, the mean universe oil monetary value rises from US $ 61 per barrel in 200911 to US $ 110 per barrel in 2015 and US $ 130 per barrel in 2030 ( US $ 189 per barrel in nominal footings ) . In the low monetary value instance, oil monetary values average US $ 50 per barrel in 2030 ( US $ 73 per barrel in nominal footings ) , compared with US $ 200 per barrel ( US $ 289 per barrel in nominal footings ) in the high monetary value instance ( EIA c, 2009 ) ( refer to calculate 6 ) .

Sustained high universe oil monetary values due to proficient trouble, bad and really expensive polish undertakings – including those located in ultra-deep H2O and the Arctic, in combination with the draining of fuel militias and the pollution job will in the long term force consumers to exchange to cheaper, cleaner, and more eco-friendly energy such as solar.

Figure 6 – Universe Oil Monetary values

Figure 5 – World Liquid Consumption

Last, in the IEO2009 mention instance, natural gas ingestion in non Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD ) states in peculiar is reported to turn more than twice every bit fast as in OECD states. Worldwide, entire natural gas ingestion will increase by an norm of 1.6 % per twelvemonth from 104 trillion three-dimensional pess in 2006 to 153 trillion three-dimensional pess in 2030 ( EIA d, 2009 ) ( refer to calculate 7 ) . Despite its turning demands and ingestion in the hereafter, keeping the premise of universe oil monetary values that remains high through the terminal of the projection of 2030, consumers would choose for the relatively less expensive natural gas for their energy demands whenever possible ( EIA d, 2009 ) . Natural gas has besides become an attractive pick for new bring forthing workss for its comparative fuel efficiency and less C dioxide produced compared to char or crude oil.

However, in the long tally, the handiness of the recoverable natural gas militias will besides be of concern and costs will non stay as they are but will increase over clip hence driving consumers towards the use of solar energy as an surrogate energy that has greater length of service.

Figure 7 – World Natural Gas Consumption


Solar energy has been used for centuries. It is a cleaner energy beginning with great potency for a universe where assorted steps are being taken to follow greener, more sustainable patterns. Intermittent Sun, high operation costs and ongoing research into efficient engineerings limit current solar usage. Research into methods of increasing harnessed energy from the Sun will in bend addition solar energy usage which presently is a infinitesimal part of the universe ‘s entire energy usage. There are environmental concerns but these can be minimised with equal handling.

To be more sustainable, mankind are suggested to efficaciously reap energy from the Sun. Although the cost of using this solar energy in comparing with of other non renewable beginnings of energy is still comparatively high, through promotions in engineering and research, it is projected to diminish to a degree where it is able to vie with other beginnings of energy such as coal, fuels and natural gas. The Sun, unlike any other energy beginning, is an ultimate energy beginning that may last everlastingly assuring a simple and non-polluting energy.