The Unlimited Potential of Solar Energy
Even though all life on earth is supported by the sun, we tend to take this amazing resource for granted, one that we don’t think too much about. We probably learned in school that the sun is really a star that radiates energy and provides the Earth with both heat and light through solar radiation. We might even know that the core of the sun is so hot and there is so much pressure that nuclear fusion takes place – the process that creates the sun’s heat and light. We might not know, however, that only about half of this solar radiation that is generated makes it to the Earth’s surface because the rest is either absorbed or reflected by clouds and the atmosphere.
Of all we could know or learn about the sun, what is most important for us to realize is that we receive enough power from the sun to meet the power demands of all mankind — millions of times over. Solar energy—power from the sun—is a vast, inexhaustible, and clean resource. The unlimited potential of solar energy is really quite mind boggling.
According to the US Department of Energy, the amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year. Just 18 days of sunshine on Earth contains the same amount of energy as is stored in all of the planet’s reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. And, once a system is in place to harness the solar resource and convert it into useful energy, the fuel is free.
Once harnessed, sunlight, or solar energy, can be used directly for heating and lighting homes and businesses, for generating electricity, and for hot water heating, solar cooling, and a variety of other commercial and industrial uses. Most critical, given the growing concern over climate change, is the fact that solar electricity generation represents a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels, with no air and water pollution, no global warming pollution, no risks of electricity price spikes, and no threats to our public health.
Solar energy does not create nor cause environmental problems. There are emissions associated with manufacturing, transporting and installing solar energy systems but once installed, solar energy does not cause pollution. In fact, the average residential solar system offsets about 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in 20 years – the equivalent of driving a car for 100,000 miles. And that’s not the only environmental benefit. Because there are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power, there is no associated noise. Solar is a quiet and clean source of energy.
The Growth of Solar Energy
These factors all contribute to the unlimited potential of solar energy to help fight climate change and the gradual warming of our planet. As a result, an ever-increasing number of home and business owners are taking advantage of solar power. Since 2008, U.S. installations have grown seventeen-fold from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) to an estimated 30 GW today, enough to power the equivalent of 5.7 million average American homes. Since 2010, the average cost of solar PV panels has dropped more than 60% and the cost of a solar electric system has dropped by about 50%. The tremendous growth in the U.S. solar industry is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. .And, according to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association), the U.S. solar market grew 76% in 2012.
Our future clearly depends on our ability to utilize solar and other renewable sources of energy. Expanding technologies, tax incentives, and utility companies adapting to solar customers are all encouraging developments in the field of solar energy. Most important, however, is to remember that averaged over the entire surface of the planet, a square meter collects 4.2 kilowatt-hours of energy every day from the sun, or the approximate energy equivalent of nearly a barrel of oil per year. The unlimited potential of solar energy to positively impact our environment, and to bring clean, renewable power to the 20% of the world’s population that lacks electricity is critical to our future.
To find out more, or to explore solar energy options for your home or business here in New York, contact one of our solar experts at Venture Home Solar. Call us today at 800-203-4158 to find out more about the unlimited potential of solar energy! We are the local experts who know the “ins and outs” of our state policies here in New York, including the tax incentives and rebates that can make a solar installation on your home or business even more cost effective. Call Venture Home Solar today (800-203-4158) to get started!