The exciting potential of solar power

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Posted on: 10 July 2018 by Morgan Franklin

With the unsustainability of fossil fuels, alongside our increasing reliance upon technology, scientists have long been exploring various potential solutions in the form of renewable energy.

 

With the unsustainability of fossil fuels, alongside our increasing reliance upon technology, scientists have long been exploring various potential solutions in the form of renewable energy.

 

While many more sustainable power sources, such as hydroelectricity and wind power, have their benefits, solar power offers perhaps the most promising potential.

 

The potential of solar

 

Solar power is such a good alternative to fossil fuels, simply because of the amount of this energy source that is available. According to the US Department of Energy, more power from the sun hits the earth every hour than the entire world population uses in a year.

 

Despite this figure, solar power only made up just 0.39% of the energy used in the US last year. This endless source of energy is available, but we are just not capturing it effectively.

 

Technological shortcomings

 

Our failure to fully utilise this energy source is in part due to technological shortcomings. Unfortunately, the batteries that we currently use do not have the capacity to store solar energy in an efficient or reliable enough way.

 

As such, solar power is still very limited, although as technology develops, so too does the potential of this energy source. Once solar panels can reach around 20% efficiency, this is more than enough to generate the power we need.

 

Currently, scientists have been able to create some prototypes that are able to produce this level of return, and we could be looking at much more effective solar panels within the next few years.

 

A solar world

 

With solar panels that can harvest around 20% of the sun’s rays, we would need a surprisingly small amount of them to fully power the world. According to the Land Art Generator Initiative, an area of solar panels around the size of Spain would be sufficient to power the entire world by 2030.  

 

With this technology, even the world’s most densely populated cities could be run effectively on solar power, without solar panels taking up too much space.

 

Huge cities such as Harbin in China, which has a population in excess of 10 million people, could be run completely off solar energy, using just 0.2% of its existing city area for solar panels.

 

Other huge global metropolises, including Beijing, Lagos, and Cairo, would also need less than 1% of their respective city areas worth of solar panels to be run on this renewable energy source.

 

At the other end of the scale, two cities would require considerable space to be run on solar panels, with Paris and Seoul needing excess land equivalent to over 40% of their existing city areas to become solar-sufficient.

 

These two cities, however, represent outliers, with many of the world’s major cities able to be supported comfortably by solar panels in the future. As solar technology continues to develop, this renewable energy source could be the answer to the long search for a more effective source of power.

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Justin stoke posted 08 March 2019

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