Solar power has emerged as an attractive power solution in recent years due to technological developments and rapidly declining costs, making solar a more attractive option than ever before for power production. But is this sustainable?
Solar installations on land that has been cleared for agriculture may be beneficial for energy production, but their impacts can be detrimental for wildlife. For instance, in the Southwest deserts where most US solar facilities have now been constructed, developers destroy hundreds of year old creosote shrubs and 100 year old yucca trees as part of this development.
1. It’s free
Solar energy may be free as a resource, but harnessing and converting it to electricity costs money. Before making decisions about the energy needs of your home or making major purchases, it’s wise to evaluate your solar potential before making major decisions regarding its usage.
PVWatts, an easy and free online tool from National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), estimates how much solar electricity your home could produce without spending a cent. By using weather data as its foundation, PVWatts estimates your site’s potential electric power production potential.
As with any financial decision, it’s wise to be wary of unscrupulous individuals attempting to take advantage of homeowners with vulnerable budgets by promising free solar panels. If contacted by such an entity, get multiple quotes and fully comprehend any math that reveals potential savings for yourself.
To continue your analysis, start by eliminating areas not suitable for solar panel installation from your map. Next, aggregate each building’s remaining surface area – as seen here using Vaisala 3Tier mapping software – and determine how much electric power they might produce on average each year, expressed as megawatt-hours.
2. It’s clean
Solar energy differs significantly from fossil fuels by producing neither greenhouse gases nor pollution; additionally, its renewable nature means it never runs out. Initial costs may be high at first but have since reduced significantly as tech advancement and competition drive costs down quickly. Renewable energies like solar are essential in creating sustainability; they reduce emissions and pollution levels, improve air and water quality while fighting climate change; also driving job creation while stabilizing prices and providing energy security.
Solar energy can be clean, but it is essential that we understand its environmental impacts before choosing solar as the energy solution for us. One significant impact occurs when a solar farm is built on previously undeveloped land. Developers usually bulldoze this site to remove all aboveground vegetation; depending on where this land lies, this may include habitat for birds, insects and animals which support ecosystems as well as fire-prone wildflowers and trees that facilitate migration corridors for birds – this may have devastating results in Southwest desert environments where many endangered desert tortoises rely on this habitat for food and shelter such as these wildflowers do.
Cleaning solar panels regularly is another environmental factor to take into account. Dust accumulation can reduce their efficiency significantly, cutting power production by as much as 30% within just one month. In the past, cleaning required purified water; now technology allows electrostatic repulsion to clean solar panels more effectively than ever.
Developers are also shifting toward less ecologically sensitive locations for solar projects. A 2019 study published in Nature revealed that US brownfields, closed landfills and degraded farmland may host large-scale solar farms. Another option would be installing solar panels onto structures already present; floating panels on canals, wastewater lagoons or other bodies of water can save money while drawing birds such as herons, grebes or cormorants to feed on any fish collected underneath.
Solar’s potential is immense, yet demand for sustainable energy sources continues to increase globally. Unfortunately, however, transition to solar has been complicated by lobbying from fossil fuel and utility industry lobbyists targeting state policies promoting rooftop and parking lot solar. Environmentalists and renewable energy advocates are fighting back by campaigning in support of rooftop and parking lot solar installations.
3. It’s convenient
Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems differ from traditional solar plants in that they use mirrors and lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a limited area, heating a fluid that runs through pipes to store energy that will provide electricity even after sundown has set.
Create a field that summarizes the electric power production potential of all buildings that feature suitable surfaces for solar panels by right-clicking the Usable_SR_MWh column name in your attribute table and selecting Calculate Field; you will see all buildings’ megawatt-hour values displayed.
Values are ordered according to their underlying mean efficiency, with centerlines, box heights, and extended lines representing median, interquartile range, and full extent data respectively. You may close both chart and attribute table, and save your project as needed.
4. It’s flexible
Solar panels rely heavily on insolation – or sunlight intensity and quantity – for their performance, and this fluctuation varies with season, location and atmospheric conditions. Therefore, energy production by solar panels cannot exactly match real-time demand resulting in system operators having difficulty balancing out supply with demand in real time.
Researchers from various countries have come together to address this problem with flexible silicon solar cells. These lightweight sheets can be integrated into buildings or cars for use as photovoltaic panels – providing new possibilities in solar energy technology advancement.
By harnessing new solar technologies, it’s now possible to produce more power with fewer solar panels than ever before. A single roof can support an array of three megawatts – enough power for a large supermarket or Walmart supercenter! And according to one study, more than half of existing buildings worldwide may be suitable rooftops for power generation.
Flexible solar can also benefit the environment by replacing fossil-fuel-based power plants with renewable energies like flexible solar. By replacing carbon emissions and air pollution with cleaner renewable solutions, flexible solar may contribute to a greener planet.
Solar power is more reliable than traditional sources of energy; wind can fluctuate during a storm while solar remains reliable and always available – this increased reliability helps ensure more secure electricity supplies.
Solar powered potential can bring many advantages, yet its technical and economic challenges must also be acknowledged. To fully realize its full potential, power sector must shift toward cleaner or renewable sources of energy production such as solar generation systems or batteries requiring considerable investments for optimal use.
To explore this issue, we used the NERC SOCO model to simulate the impact of flexible solar on bulk grid operations. Figure III displays our findings; flexible solar significantly reduced balancing violations when compared with must-take mode since flexible solar could contribute ancillary services otherwise provided by thermal generators.