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Solar Energy for the Future

This post is part of a series by guest bloggers Anthony Tomaine and Leah Block, senior chemistry students attending the COP16 conference in Cancun under the sponsorship of the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement.

As the climate rapidly changes and fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, there is a growing demand in the world for new sources of energy to limit the damage to the environment.  From visiting multiple NGO booths on alternative solar energies, one can conclude that the damage currently being inflicted on Earth’s climate by burning fossil fuels almost guarantees the destruction of the livelihoods of millions, especially in developing countries. It will also disrupt ecosystems and speed up the extinction of multiple species.

We know that the sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface can supply enough energy to power civilization. Every year, more and more solar panels and other solar-powered energy sources have been installed around the world, decreasing emissions including greenhouse gases that are linked to climate change.  Greenpeace representatives told me that a prediction made by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA)  in 2001 about the solar energy market has already been surpassed.

EPIA and Greenpeace predict that one quarter of the world’s electricity needs will be satisfied through f solar panels by 2050.  Different companies have been furiously working to make these breakthroughs more affordable and more available.  With the price dropping rapidly, this type of energy is on its way to being able to compete with conventional electricity sources globally.

11 Comments

  • Dec 13th 201016:12
    by Steve Garlock

    I recently wrote a research paper on solar panels. After all my research I have done I now more then ever agree to start using solar panels and other forms of alternative energy. Even though the cost is high for these panels the benefit can be worthwhile in the long run. The more people use this technology the better and cheaper is will become, much like other technologies.

  • Dec 13th 201017:12
    by Andrew Schmehl

    I agree that solar panels is a vital source that we need to become more educated on. I feel as though this is a great way to conserve the resources we have and to reduce the amount of fossil fuels in the ozone. Like Steve said, the cost is high, but the results will prove to be much worth the cost.

  • Dec 13th 201017:12
    by Bobby Carlson

    I also support the development of solar photovoltaics. I believe that in order for solar cells to begin to have large commercial success the cells’ efficiencies have to improve to the point where their payback cost is less than 2 years. Currently, most commercial cells have an efficiency of around 20%. I think that if the efficiency can improve 5-10% in the next 2 years we could begin to see more of these cells in use.

  • Dec 13th 201017:12
    by Ashley Spataro

    I agree with Andrew and Steve. Solar panels are a wonderful idea. They can provide a great amount of enery without any harm to the enviorment. They can be placed on top of building to minimize the amount of space that would be taken up. Yes they are expensive but in long run it will be worth it.

  • Dec 13th 201018:12
    by Jason

    Plants have been using solar energy to convert CO2 into sugar and high energy molecules for over a billion years on planet earth. It is about time that we humans start to get it right!

  • Dec 14th 201012:12
    by Kimberley Heine

    I think that the biggest problem with solar panels is that they are expensive but I’m glad they are trying to make them more affordable. I also know that they aren’t just making solar panels but solar shingles for roofs which I think will be even more beneficial since it covers a greater area. Pretty soon solar panels will be a common thing on houses instead of being so scarcely seen.

  • Dec 15th 201001:12
    by Martin Nedyalkov

    Solar panels are a great alternative! Some may consider avoiding such investment at this time due to the high initial cost. Over a period of time the solar panels turn out to be a cheaper and environmentally safer mean of energy. As our generation progresses it is our responsibility to become more informed on the benefits of solar panels and promote these ideas to large corporations like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. We all know they use astronomical amounts of electricity and will have a big impact on the environment if they invest and advertise solar panels and their benefits.

  • Dec 16th 201005:12
    by Stephen Kain

    i agree with martin about the benefits of using solar panels. They are beneficial in terms of long term effects to our ecosystem reducing waste and eliminating pollution made by other accustomed power source. Thats why i myself use Solar Power Batteries to contribute even in a small way.

  • Dec 20th 201012:12
    by Lauren Weaver

    There are still a fairly large amount of people who either don’t believe in global warming or who don’t care what is going on in the world around them. Is it going to be enough, that the people who do believe or are educated about global warming, do something such as converting to solar energy? Or are more people going to have to be tuned to the idea that global warming is real, for this to even have enough of an effect on converting enough of the world’s energy? Solar panels are probably one of the best bets for the consumer to do it’s part.

  • Dec 29th 201019:12
    by R. Lee Shearer

    “As the climate rapidly changes and fossil fuels become increasingly scarce…”

    No one can seriously claim that the climate does not change. It has been doing so for billions of years even before humanity came to be. Only few hundred years ago, climate change buried Viking farms in Greenland under “permafrost.” (This was before the wide use of fossil fuels). About 12,000 years ago, much of the Northern hemisphere was under several km of ice. Thankfully the climate changed. Today’s climate change is not out of the ordinary. It was warmer about 6-7000 years ago than it is now. Sea level was a few m higher than now and the arctic was ice free for much of that time.

    With regard to running out of fossil fuels, oil is certainly harder to extract but there are hundreds of years of coal and natural gas left. Solar energy does not make sense in today’s economics in most cases. If you are concerned about CO2 emissions, then split atoms, not birds (or bats).

  • Feb 12th 201115:02
    by Sick Submitter Review

    I often read your blog and and every time I find it more and more interesting. Thought it was about time I let you know. Keep up the great work, and keep inspiring your readers. Thank you!

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