Energy is everywhere, and we’re using more and more of it every year. The challenge of the 21st century will be continuing to power the world while protecting our resources and our environment by pushing the effective use of alternative energy like solar. Every day, the sun beams more than enough energy to supply the planet’s power needs for a whole year. Solar power is about harnessing that power and making it usable.
Clearly, solar energy has strong advantages. First and foremost, it’s abundant. We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun keeps burning. Solar power creates no waste or pollution, so it can be used to offset the need for fossil fuel sources that do. The sun also provides a significant cost advantage – it’s a free source of electricity and heat that can pay over time for the initial systems set up to harness it.
So what’s the down side? Solar power is intermittent. Solar systems are only able to generate heat and electricity when the sun is shining. So, for about half of each day, solar panels are not producing energy.
Today, solar energy produces only a tiny percent of our energy compared to natural gas, coal, nuclear and wind. But thanks to government incentives aimed at research and development, plus investment by major corporations such as Walmart, the amount of the energy that we get from the sun will increase significantly in the years ahead. Today, Walmart alone has more than 180 renewable energy projects in operation around the world, with solar at the forefront.