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.