Fossil fuels such as coal and oil have seen widespread use ever since the Industrial Revolution, but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, alternate means of providing energy have emerged, such as solar. Solar energy, wind farms, hydro-electric dams, and more are appearing more and more often to provide for the world’s rapidly growing energy needs. In the last few decades, the world’s demand for energy has grown rapidly, and fossil fuels might not be able to keep up with it all. And even if they can, fossil fuels have come under a lot of scrutiny for their pollution and other by-products, prompting many to invest instead in solar panels and solar energy systems to meet the growing need for energy while reaping the other benefits of pursuing alternate, clean energy. How can this be done? Why is solar popular?
It is clear that the United States and many other nations, both developed and developing, need more energy than ever in both the civilian and business sectors. American homes, for example, use a lot of energy for heating and cooling; in fact, nearly half of all energy going into American homes is used on heating and cooling, and the rest goes towards lighting and appliances. Unfortunately, some of this energy ends up being wasted when homes have inefficient HVAC systems or when homes are drafty or have poor insulation. Saving energy for the home and reducing the need for fossil fuels involves not just solar technology, but making sure that homes and commercial buildings alike are efficient with their energy use. Public building managers and homeowners alike are encouraged to have the most energy-efficient utilities and construction materials possible to help reduce the need for fossil fuels.
How does commercial solar panel installation and solar panel tech for the home fit into all this? More and more solar installations are appearing all over the nation, and a combination of increased interest and reduced costs and better efficiency means that more panels are being put in place across the United States. As of now, nearly 1.3 million solar panel installations can be found across the United States, and altogether, they can generate just over 40 gigawatts. To put that into perspective, the Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that just one 1 megawatt of electricity powers 164 average homes, so 40 gigawatts is sufficient to power 6,560,000 homes, a staggering total. These panels can be found either on roofs to power the home they are attached to, or whole arrays can be set up on open land to generate power for entire neighborhoods or city blocks. Such arrays are often build in sunny areas like in the Southwestern states, where sunlight is collected in vast quantities and sent to local electric grids. Deserts are often an ideal place for this where there is no cloud cover.
What are some of the benefits of pursuing solar energy? There are several. For one thing, alternate energies such as solar panels, wind farms, and more are a major factor of the worldwide “go green” initiative, since they aim to replace the older fossil fuel industry and in doing so, drastically cut down on pollution from fossil fuels. What is more, these clean sources of energy not only have no by-products that harm the environment, but they are growing more efficient than the fossil fuels that they replace, and the clean energy sector, including solar panels, already employs more American workers than the fossil fuel industry itself does. As another benefit, clean energy spurs the development of the technology needed to make them, and these advancements can be used in other sectors as well. Developing this technology may be part of how the clean energy sector is hiring so many people and creates so many jobs, alongside actually installing the hardware. Solar panels can be installed in individual homes’ roofs to power that home, or on top of commercial buildings to provide their power, or as mentioned above, large-scale arrays can power entire city blocks or neighborhoods at once. Wind energy is also efficient, and such turbines can be placed in windy fields or in shallow coasts to generate nonstop energy from the wind around them.