Renewable, or ‘clean,’ energy comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. These include solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, ocean, hydrogen, and biomass.
While many people can understand the importance of switching to these from fossil fuels, it may be less clear which form of renewable energy would be the best to choose. Here are four reasons why solar is the best option:
- It’s an efficient producer of energy
The sun provides more than enough power to meet the world’s needs. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory tells us that “more energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year.” When being used as a renewable energy source, the only limitation of solar power is our ability to turn it into electricity efficiently and cost-effectively.
Photovoltaic (PV) systems are used to convert direct sunlight into electricity through the use of solar cells. Although there is obviously variability in the amount and timing of sunlight over the day, season, and year, an appropriately sized and configured system can be designed to be highly reliable and much more optimal than using fossil fuels.
- It’s relatively cost-effective.
Solar energy can often be much cheaper to set up and use compared with other renewable forms, and once solar panels are installed, the operational costs are additionally quite low compared to other types of power generation.
Wind turbines also have the potential to supply a significant amount of our general power needs. These would potentially be the closest comparison in terms of start-up costs. However, they require more ongoing specialized maintenance due to the type of moving machinery involved, which increases their ongoing costs.
Such turbines are also often placed at quite a distance from the places they are powering because, although they produce minimal pollution, they dominate skylines and generate noise. This means that wind energy must be transported via transition lines, again leading to higher overall operating costs. Solar power production facilities, however, can be installed on-site, which eliminates the need for transportation of the energy.
- It has minimal impact on the environment.
While other renewable forms produce clean energy and are certainly far superior to fossil fuels, they may have an impact on the environment in other ways. For example, they may take up a great deal of space or could otherwise affect various forms of wildlife or their natural habitats.
Solar power, on the other hand, generates electricity with a limited impact on the environment. Such systems do not produce air pollutants or greenhouse gases, and as long as they are responsibly sited, most solar panels have few environmental impacts outside of the manufacturing process.
- It is an all-round more versatile option
Finally, one of the most significant advantages of solar power is its versatility. The required photovoltaic panels can be built in just a matter of months, and either a land or a rooftop solar installation can be set up almost anywhere as the sunshine varies much less than wind or rainfall.
In addition to this, since the size and generating capacity of the panels is dependent on the number of solar modules installed, they are easily scalable to match the specific needs of the place they are being used to power.
Overall, solar power generation has emerged as one of the most rapidly growing renewable sources of electricity. While all such sources of energy are undoubtedly better than fossil fuels, solar energy has certain clear advantages over other renewable types as well. In this way, it emerges as the best of them all.
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