As the world heats up and researchers point the many natural disasters and catastrophes to human actions, people have started taking stock of the situation and are trying to remedy the situation. One such step has been the switch to solar energy from traditional fossil fuels.
Advancements in solar panel technology coupled with an extensive push by governments and private organizations around the world have led to greater adoption of solar panels and more solar energy is being tapped today than before. Obviously, this has reduced our dependence on fossil fuels and the costly extraction process that comes with it.
But how far along are we and when can we switch to solar energy completely? Let’s find out.
History of Solar Panels
Contrary to what most people think, solar panels are not a recent invention. If travel back to mid-1800s, you’ll be surprised to know that solar energy was used to heat water and the steam from it was used to power machinery. This got a further boost when in 1839; Alexander Becquerel discovered how to convert sunlight to electricity, often called the photovoltaic effect. But the proposed method of extraction was too expensive and inefficient.
About 100 years later in 1941, Russell Ohm invented the solar cell that once again kick-started research and interest in solar energy. Unfortunately, this did not last long as the effects of tapping into fossil fuel were not known then.
About three decades back, the dependence of fossil fuels and the negative impact it had on the environment came back into the limelight and this time, the effort towards tapping into the solar energy was more concerted and determined. This led to the creation of the first solar panel and since then, solar energy is being seen as one of the sources of energy for the future.
Solar panel installation cost is coming down due to increased demand and improved technology and we can expect wider adoption of this source of energy in the upcoming years.
What was the Purpose?
If you’re wondering about solar panel efficiency and why the switch was made to this form of energy, let’s take a look at some reasons.
- Solar energy is a clean source of energy and no greenhouse gases are emitted when you use solar panels to convert solar power into electricity.
- Since solar energy is inexhaustible, we will never run out of it ever.
- The conversion process requires no additional fuel and is mostly cheap with little to no operating costs.
- Brings down the cost of utility bills
- It is estimated the solar panels offer a return on investment of about 20 percent every year, thereby leading to substantial savings over the lifetime of these panels.
- Solar panels increase the value of your property.
- The Solar Foundation estimates that this form of energy has the potential to create more jobs, thereby giving a boost to the local economy.
- Highly sustainable and protects the environment in a big way.
Due to this myriad of benefits, more people and organizations are willing to go the extra mile to convert the source of their energy needs from fossil fuels to solar.
The Current State of Solar Energy
The many benefits, as well as the advancements, have made it easy for people to switch to solar energy. Most leading countries in the world have extensive solar panel installations to tap into the power of the sun and these installations are only expected to increase in the upcoming years.
According to Solar Power Europe, 99.1 GW of solar panels was installed in 2017 and this represents a 30 percent year-on-year growth. It is estimated that one terawatt of solar power will be installed by 2022, thereby giving a huge jump to the production and use of solar energy around the world. Currently, Germany, France, and Turkey are the leading producers, though other countries are expected to join the bandwagon soon.
Solar power generation is also picking up in developing countries like India and Egypt that have abundant levels of sunshine days each year.
In all, the future looks bright for solar power and lets us hope that we move into it completely at the earliest.