By Editor • 2 years ago

2.1 Solar energy: The best renewable energy source under the Sun

Earth, the one and only habitable planet in the solar system is rich in energy diversity. It is home to a variety of renewable energy sources, fossil fuels and nuclear fuels. Even though plenty of renewable energy is readily available around us we humans have been extensively drilling the earth for fossil fuels to fulfil the energy demand. As we previously discussed, this tendency has led to numerous environmental, ecological, social, and economic problems. Some damages we have done to the earth are extreme threats to the earth’s health and death threats to the living beings.

‘’Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans’’- Evo Morales [1]

In our very first articles, we discussed manmade environmental damages and their impacts on the climate system. Then we realized that climate change was the most damaging upshot caused by our imprudent, irresponsible activities. We then moved on to discuss the anthropogenic causes of climate change and comprehended that overuse of fossil fuels was the most potent cause. All in all, switching to renewable energy was identified to be the game changer!

Thenceforward we discussed various sources of renewable energy in detail and realized that none of them would be sufficient to satisfy our increasing hungry for energy.  Finally, we concluded such renewable energy sources would be insufficient to replace today’s role of oil and thus to quench our thirst for oil.

However, as we learned in the last article, we are still not unlucky!

We are immensely fortunate to have access to a renewable energy source which is certainly capable of providing energy more than enough to fulfill the entire world’s energy demand.

It is solar energy!

Unlike other renewable energy sources, solar energy is everywhere and abundant!

Especially, it is easy to be harnessed.

And solar energy harvesting does not conduce to noise or air pollution.

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is heat and sunlight coming from the Sun. Simply, Sun is the place where solar energy emanates. Our Sun generates a tremendous amount of energy to nourish and light up its astronomical members, planets, moons, asteroids and comets. Energy generated by the Sun is irradiated out into the outer space in the form of electromagnetic (EM) waves and meets the Earth’s atmosphere at an average intensity in the range of 1361 W m-2-1362 W m-2 [2]. This amount is, however, reduced due to the absorption of solar radiation by various gases in the atmosphere before reaching the Earth’s surface.

All the indirect solar energy sources that we discussed in previous articles are also naturally derived from solar energy. However, the term ‘solar energy’ mostly refers to the use of solar radiation (sunlight/ heat) for practical applications such as electricity generation, water heating and space heating.


References
  1. Morales, E. (2016). Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans. People, Planet, and Progress Beyond 20152, 133.
  2. G.; Lean. J. L. (2011). “A new lower value of total solar irradiance: Evidence and climate significance” (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 38: n/a. Bibcode: 2011 GeoRL.38.1706K. doi: 10.1029/2010GL045777.