Solar energy is one of the many renewable energy sources that have caught the world’s attention in recent years. In an effort to combat global warming and other environmental dangers resulting from fossil fuels, homeowners, businesses, and entire communities have begun installing solar panels to provide them with their energy needs. These solar panels provide users with significant benefits, including cheaper energy costs, while contributing to a healthier environment. Here’s how solar energy is being used around the world today.
What is Solar Energy?
People have become increasingly concerned about the impact of mining and burning fossil fuels, and for good reason. Not only do these nonrenewable resources pollute the environment, they will eventually run out and cannot be replaced. The solution to both of these concerns lies in renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, wind, and solar energy. These forms of energy will never run out and generally have a much lower environmental impact than traditional forms of energy. Solar energy in particular has become cheaper than before, encouraging more people to install solar panels on their homes and commercial buildings.
Solar energy is a popular choice for many homeowners because it can help lower their electrical bills. It can also be used to heat water in the home for extra savings. Thermal solar, which uses concentrated solar power energy systems, can heat indoor water tanks and even pools to comfortable levels for showering and swimming. Using solar energy in this way can ultimately save homeowners more money over time and create another opportunity to use renewable energy sources instead of traditional forms of energy.
Solar energy is being used to power everything from railroads and subways to buses, cars, and even airplanes. A solar-powered aircraft called the Solar Impulse 2 recently traveled around the world, and solar buses in China are being used to ease air pollution in crowded cities like Beijing. Solar-powered cars are also emerging, with a racecar in Australia called the SolarSprint making waves in the racing circuit there. These advances are helping to decrease the amount of exhaust in the air and dependence on traditional gas, helping maintain the ozone layer and protect the environment.
LED lights already provide bright light with a smaller amount of power consumption. They can be used instead of traditional light bulbs for any household use and often provide a brighter, whiter, and more pleasant light than normal bulbs. However, they can be made even more effective by using solar energy. By connecting a battery-charged system that runs on solar energy, LED lights inside and outside the house can be powered by the sun. Many outdoor lights now contain their own solar panels and battery packs as well, making a second battery pack unnecessary.
Certain tools can now be charged with solar energy. Small space and water heaters designed for use while camping often contain solar panels for easier and more efficient charging. Other solar tools include flashlights, cook stoves, flashing signs, and other small items that would traditionally require batteries or in-home electricity to be charged. Using solar energy to power these small tools eliminates the need for single-use batteries, propane tanks, or idling cars to charge necessary tools while on the road. Solar-powered tools can also provide an additional layer of safety, as campers can be sure that the battery will not run out at a critical moment and cause them distress.
Just about anything can run on solar energy with a solar-powered external battery. This device charges batteries through a solar panel, then plugs into cell phones, tablets, music speakers, and other small, electronic devices to charge them as well. A solar battery such as this one eliminates the need for charging devices using standard forms of electricity. Many wearable devices, such as fitness trackers and smart watches, may soon contain small solar panels to run on solar energy as well. As more and more electronic devices for information and entertainment become available, using solar energy to power them can significantly reduce electricity usage and reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the process.
Why Use Solar Energy?
Solar energy is a better choice for our environment and our health than traditional forms of energy. Mining for coal, fracking for oil, and using other methods to obtain fossil fuels can cause significant damage to the land, waterways, air, and habitats of wildlife living in those areas. These methods can also affect humans, polluting the air with harmful chemicals when the fuels are burned or poisoning water sources. Nonrenewable resources will also be exhausted over time, and an alternative will be required regardless of the environmental damage that fossil fuels have caused over time.
Solar energy, meanwhile, has a much smaller environmental impact. Solar panels are becoming cheaper and smaller, making them easier to install in homes and communities around the world. Many of these panels can store energy for nighttime and cloudy days, and solar energy is therefore as effective as other methods of creating electricity. Finally, solar energy does not require excessive damage to the environment. While the materials required to build panels must be mined, increased awareness about minimally-damaging mining techniques is helping to make solar energy and even more eco-friendly option for our planet. The cost savings of using solar energy over time and the limited amount of potential damage to waterways, the air, and both humans and animals all make solar energy an attractive option for individuals and communities seeking to reduce their environmental footprint.