Solar energy is an incredibly promising technology that will play a huge role in upgrading our energy grid. Here’s five benefits it offers over older technologies that we rely on today.
1: Solar Doesn’t Need Constant Input.
Well technically it does, but that input is the sun, and if that goes away we’re super screwed. Unlike resource dependent energy sources solar doesn’t need external input to continue producing energy. Where a coal power plant needs coal to continue working, solar can be build and left to its own devices.
This means that theoretically solar can scale exponentially as the energy created by one panel can be used to create another and so on. In practice this has some roadblocks, but we may innovate our way out of them eventually.
2: Solar is a Technology Rather Than A Resource
This may seem unremarkable but it’s probably solar’s greatest advantage. Resources have set amounts of energy. You can only get so much energy from a barrel of oil and the price to produce it will stay roughly constant. Technology doesn’t follow these rules. Technologies improve incredibly fast and benefit from economies of scale.
As we make more panels, they’ll get more effective and cheaper to make. It’s kind of a snowball effect where it takes a while to get started, but once it’s going, it goes fast. Of course no technology explanation would be complete without pointing to cell phones as an example.
3: It Can Be Decentralized
Unlike the massive power plants we’re used to, solar can be very small. You can kinda stick it anywhere. Any flat surface that gets good sunlight is a viable location. This means we can generate energy across the entire city. Without one or two big points of failure the chances of power outages if something breaks are much lower.
4: It Reduces Heat
Ever notice how it’s always way hotter in the city than the country? This is because the sun heats up the asphalt and concrete, which then radiate it to the surrounding area. That heat is unused solar energy. By putting panels on the roof of a building you suck up a lot of that energy. You can use the energy that would have raised your A/C bill, to run the A/C instead.
Pretty neat but shouldn’t it have the opposite effect in cold seasons? Yes, but solar panels also provide insulation on a roof, which keeps you from losing heat through your roof. It’s a win-win.
5: It’s Carbon Neutral
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this one before. Admittedly, I put this last because there are lots of other reasons to integrate solar into our power grid that don’t get talked about much. I Don’t really want to preach the environmental benefits of solar, because there are so many people who do so much better than I ever could.
Solar is an incredibly technology that will only continue to improve. Although Our current methods of energy creation have served us well, they are increasingly beginning to show their age. We Should make a significant effort to upgrade our energy grid to more advanced technologies and shouldn’t need a global crisis to want to do so.