Are We Going Through a Solar Revolution?
We are living in dynamic times. New technologies are taking over, revolutionizing the way we live, the way we work and the way we enjoy our leisure time. In 2016, reports showed that solar and wind energy are taking over the world. The investment in renewable energy is growing, while the oil and natural gas industries experienced some downsizing.
Even on a personal level, solar is becoming more readily accessible. Solar phone chargers, panels for residential use, solar water heaters and even industrial solar electricity centers are replacing old-school energy production. So, what does our solar future look like? When will solar energy take over completely? Let’s find out together.
Will Solar Take Over the World?
The concern about the use of fossil fuels and the environmental problems stemming from those are becoming global. This is one of the reasons why the prominence of solar power is growing faster than ever.
Innovations in technology have fueled the revolution, as well. The cost of solar energy production has become nearly the same as the cost of generating energy from fossil fuels. Solar panels are also getting easier to purchase as such installations are getting to be more and more affordable.
Still, in 2016, the world was using 100 times more energy stemming from fossil fuels than energy produced in a sustainable way. Solar consumption has grown approximately 38 percent but it still has a lot of catching up to do.
This being said, experts believe that solar has a long way to go until it development starts fully outperforming traditional sources of energy. Still, solar energy production is making a tangible impact on our lives. We’re not living in solar cities yet but such technology can be spotted just about everywhere.
The World’s First Solar Cities
While we’re still dreaming about the utopic world in which most energy is produced from renewable sources, some places are making wonderful steps in the right direction. The first solar cities are already a fact, inspiring others to follow in the same footsteps.
Sonnenschiff or the Solar City is one such innovative project.
The Solar City is located in Germany and currently, it produces four times more energy than the one it consumes. In essence, Sonnenschiff is a self-sustaining community. Large solar panels that double as roof shades are placed strategically to make the most of the available sunlight. Currently, the community consists of 52 homes and commercial buildings characterized by a minimal environmental footprint.
Construction improvements were also carried out, reducing the energy needs of every single building. Thus, environmentally-friendly design and solar power come together to reduce the dependence on standard energy sources without sacrificing standards of living.
India is another place that has embraced the concept. In fact, the government has launched its own Development of Solar Cities program. The aim of the program is to be carried out in 60 of the country’s biggest urban centers and to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by at least 10 percent.
A focus on solar energy and the provision of incentives will be used to up the use of renewable energy sources. In this sense, the program will be similar to what countries like Austria and the US, for example, are already doing. Taking into consideration India’s population, however, the impact of such measures will have a profound positive effect on the entire world.
The Future Applications of Solar Power
When it comes to solar, the future has a lot to offer and some believe that the applications of the alternative energy source will expand extensively in the years to come.
Some economists suggest that poorer countries could use solar energy for their development. Sunny places across the globe may start exporting solar energy to the rest of the world. This could be one of the options for the development of some of the poorest parts of Africa, for example. On top of providing income, such an international strategy will give countries with limited resources access to clean energy.
Solar ships, trains and even airplanes may be developed. Currently, the transportation industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters. The transportation industry in the US alone produces 26 percent of the country’s greenhouse emissions. This ranks are the second biggest polluter after the fossil fuel electricity production industry.
There are analysts who have even gone a step further, imaging the world that features… solar clothing! Imagine fabrics that will keep you cool during the summer and warm in the winter by relying on the energy from the sun. The applications will be limitless when the right types of solar cells for each application get developed.
The applications are limitless and we could be living in a much cleaner world, once the use of solar energy expands. The global warming and pollution stemming from solar energy production are negligible in comparison to the impact of fossil fuel use. While alternative energy sources still have a lot of catching up to do, prognoses are positive.
In 2016, the world’s solar capacity was 320 GWp. The industry employed 2.5 million people throughout the world. In 2018, the number is expected to reach 640GWp and the industry will be employing 10 million people.
Experts predict that in 2017, the cost of solar panels will continue to decrease and that the efficiency of photovoltaics will grow. These trends will also continue in the long run. We’ll simply have to wait and see what our solar future is going to look like.