Humanity has always had energy needs, and this valuable resource has come from a number of sources in the past, ranging from coal and fires to oil (or petrol, in the UK), but today, such fossil fuels are coming under increasingly heavy criticism for their constant pollution and relatively low efficiency compared to some newer methods of power, often clean energy. Renewable, non-polluting sources of power such as wind, solar energy, and even geothermal heat under our feet are beckoning as the new staples of power, and as the world’s energy needs continue to rise to new heights, something must provide it all. Those who support the “go green” initiative often argue that those who use solar energy are not only cutting back on harmful fossil fuels, but to use solar energy is to help expand an industry that is spurring technological growth and new job creation. Often, those who choose to use solar energy are boosting the rise of this new but often attractive technology, and solar panel installation is growing at a remarkable rate across the United States as costs continue to go down. How can a homeowner or business owner use solar energy and contribute to this change?
Power and the Sun
The world’s energy needs are only growing, and some have pointed out that energy needs are experiencing practically exponential growth in the last few decades. Where will all this power come from, and how much is needed? That number grows by the day, but it is safe to say that energy needs are massive, encouraging clean energy advocates to develop newer and better solar energy system designs to meet this need. Right now, fossil fuel-based power plants are the bulk of the energy providers in the United States, but given current trends, that may soon change within the coming years. Fossil fuels are facing heavy criticism for their constant pollution, and many have attributed fossil fuel burning from power plants as well as cars for the current climate change crisis. This drives many to push for clean energy like panels to use solar energy, and on an industrial level, the clean energy sector may offer even more benefits aside from cutting back on climate change.
What makes solar power so attractive, and why should homeowners and cities use solar energy for their power needs? This resource is not only clean and renewable, but enormously plentiful. Coal and gas seams and reserves may run out, but the sun will shine for another five billion years, which is effectively indefinite for today’s consideration. The sun famously puts out energy on an astronomical scale, and there is no threat of using it up. In fact, only a tiny sliver of the sun’s total energy output strikes planet Earth, but even this tiny fraction of the sun’s power is staggering in size. Every day, an impressive 120,000 terawatts of solar power flow through to the Earth, which is 10,000 times more than all energy flowing through the entire industrial civilization at any time. For all intents and purposes, solar energy is infinite, a well that never runs dry. How to harness it?
Use Solar Energy Tech
Sunlight is collected as a power source by means of solar panels, which can be installed nearly anywhere that gets sunlight. This is a relatively new technology that is still undergoing a lot of innovation and refinement, but the payoff is considerable, and already, many solar panels are in place in the United States as well as the entire world. Today, the United States boasts some 1.3 million solar installations, and all together, they have a total capacity of 40 gigawatts of power. The Solar Energy Industries Association has estimated that just one megawatt of electricity powers 164 homes, meaning that the 40 gigawatt total may power a staggering 6,560,000 American homes. These panels can be installed on a small scale, such as a few on a home’s roof to power only that home, or they can be set up in huge arrays in deserts to collect sunlight on an industrial scale. Some home that such panel arrays may power entire neighborhoods or even cities in the future, no fossil fuels needed.