September 9, 2022

Is solar energy the answer and solution to combat climate change?

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Energy consumption is exponentially increasing over the past few years making it a challenge for many countries to meet the demand. According to the IEA, energy consumption in India has increased by 475.81% from 1990 and touched 1349.29 TWh in 2019. That is almost a 500% increase in the past 30 years.

The cause for this increase is due to the social and economic growth where energy consumption increases across different home, office and industrial applications like cooking, lighting, mobility, communication, and space comfort.

With the increase in demand and usage, there are challenges that have been brought upon the environment including rising sea levels, warming oceans, rising global temperature, carbon emissions & other harmful fume emissions.

Some of these changes have an immediate effect and are already evident. For example, ​​glaciers have started melting, winter duration has reduced, weather patterns have changed, etc. Global warming has also resulted in the reduction of various species and even in some cases has caused extinction. This is a clear indication to bring in the change in order to sustain and survive in the future.

 

Some of the effects of energy production on the environment:

  1. Air Pollution - One of the major pollutants produced by energy production is nitrogen dioxide which is emitted during the combustion of fossil fuels in the power plants and contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Scientific studies have even linked NO2 emissions from these power plants with negative health impacts like asthma & other respiratory illness.
  2. Water Pollution - Thermal plants are one of the most employed sources of power generation in many countries including India. These power plants dump dangerous pollutants such as mercury, arsenic and lead into the waters. The heavy metals in the waste discharges can cause neurological and developmental damage, cause harm in utero, damage internal organs and cause cancer.
  3. Thermal Pollution - Using water as a coolant in power plants causes the degradation of quality which in turn changes ambient water temperature causing thermal pollution. These temperatures impact the organisms after they are exposed to the environment by decreasing oxygen supply and ecosystem composition changes.
  4. Solid Waste Disposal - In addition to the harmful fumes and gases, there are also solid wastes that get produced from burning fossil fuels or from chemical processes. These solid wastes are harmful in nature and can degrade the environment if not properly disposed. These wastes will also result in harmful emissions and cause harm to the nearby residents.

While the growing demand has to be met for power generation, the challenges and effects that are imposed on the environment today could lead to a serious effect along with influencing the climate changes consistently for the future years to come.

Renewable energy is one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against climate change as it helps in curbing emissions and achieving ambitious climate goals. The most effective renewable energy and renewable energy that can meet the demand and can also be deployed where the power is consumed is solar energy.

 

How can solar energy contribute to overcoming climate change:

  1. Reduces Air Pollution - Solar energy, unlike other sources of power generation does not need the burning of fuels or complex chemical processes to generate energy. This in turn helps in producing clean energy without having to release any harmful or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  2. Reduce Water Usage - Solar energy unlike thermal or hydro energy does not have a dependency on water. While the conventional power plants result in water pollution and degradation of water quality, solar energy will not need the water thereby reducing the water usage.
  3. Eliminates the use of non-renewable energy - Solar energy is green and energy independent which helps in reducing our dependence on non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels. Degradation of non-renewable energy results adversely on the environment causing natural calamities and unprecedented effects. By eliminating this completely, solar energy helps in keeping non-renewable energy intact.
  4. Improves Humanity’s Health - The continual dump of pollutants and additional carbon-di-oxide into the air makes it harder for the environment resulting in many diseases and adverse effects on humankind. As the amount of carbon compounds in the atmosphere increases, so does heat retention ultimately causing global warming. Solar energy helps in controlling this and in turn, reverses the effect by taking on solar heat and converting it into power.

In addition to the environmental advantages, solar energy also reap benefits in many other ways like reduced costs, inexhausatable source, etc. Check out our last blog to learn more about the other benefits of solar energy - Here is why solar energy will change the way we power homes in the future.

 

Conclusion:

The demand for energy is growing exponentially. To meet this demand, there is a need for more energy to be produced and this can cause harm to the environment, flora, fauna and to every living being’s existence.

There is a serious concern to address. The need for a renewable, clean and green energy has generated interest among scientists, solar energy developers, land managers and policymakers to understand the environmental impacts and act on them.

Solar energy seems to be the most viable option that can cater to all the environmental and economic traits. In addition to the environmental benefits we get, it is also evident that the solar energy sector has seen remarkable growth and huge cost improvements over the past decade with no signs of slowing down.

According to an analysis from Irena, the cost involved in generating power from solar energy has gone down by 85% during 2010 to 2022 resulting in more people opting for solar-powered electricity for homes.

In a nutshell, the sooner and faster we can make the transition completely to a renewable energy like solar power, the better would be for both the environment and the living beings.


References
IEA - India
Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide
Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2020

 

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