The International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that solar energy will become a viable alternative to fossil fuels within the next decade, and by 2050, it will be the world's largest source of electricity. This is great news for the environment, but there are still some challenges that need to be addressed before solar energy can become a reliable source of power. In this article, we'll take a comprehensive look at the potential of solar energy and the obstacles that must be overcome in order for it to become a viable option. The main issue with solar energy is that it only works when the sun is shining. This means that during cloudy days or at night, solar panels are unable to generate electricity.
To address this problem, battery solutions have been developed to provide power during these times, but they are still quite expensive. Additionally, most homes with solar panels are still dependent on the grid from time to time. Another issue is the rapid replacement rate of solar panels. With current recycling costs being high, there is a real danger that all used panels will go directly to landfill (along with equally difficult to recycle wind turbines). Regulators and industry players must start improving the economy and scale of recycling capabilities before the onslaught of solar panels arrives. Corporate lobbyists can make convincing arguments in favor of government intervention, focusing on the idea that waste is a negative externality of the rapid innovation needed for the widespread adoption of new energy technologies, such as solar.
However, no fuel source is perfect and there are both positive and negative environmental impacts associated with solar energy. The windiest parts of the country, often in inland regions such as the Great Plains, have fewer people to use that energy than crowded coastal cities. Additionally, the power grid is a centralized system in which huge amounts of energy are produced in large power plants and transmitted via transmission lines to distribution systems and then to end users. To illustrate this point further, let's take Morocco as an example. Solar energy will obviously have an important role to play in generating indispensable electricity, but it would be unrealistic to expect it to provide anything close to the current levels of per capita energy use in the global North. The cost of solar panels (also known as modules) has dropped significantly over time. However, the “balance of system costs” (everything except the panels themselves) now exceeds that of the panels themselves.
This means that in order for solar energy to be viable, the size of the system must be expanded so that part of the total capacity can be used to supply energy in real time and part can charge batteries. In addition, production innovations are being prepared that will reduce the amounts of expensive materials (such as silver and silicon) used in the manufacture of solar cells. Innovations such as bifacial modules also allow panels to capture solar energy from both sides. According to Consumer Reports, after accounting for solar tax credits, the cost of a solar panel system in an average-sized home in the U. S. is around $18,840.
The efficiency of solar panels results in having to install more solar panels than would otherwise be necessary; however, they will pay for themselves and produce less emissions than fossil fuels. In conclusion, while no method of power generation is without defects, solar energy is quickly becoming a viable means of generating energy for people on a large scale. A transition to solar energy should not simply be about replacing fossil fuels but about reorganizing the global economy.