The statistics that show how much kinder solar power is to mother earth than fossil fuels are pretty impressive, as well as persuasive. According to one site, powering your home with a 3KW solar system for 20 years would save 9,000 kgs of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, the equivalent of planting 5,320 trees or taking 131 cars off the road.
Solar or photovoltaic (PV) energy, which converts sunlight to electricity, is gaining popularity in the U.S. This is due to a combination of increased public awareness of the environmental benefits of solar energy and the volatility of oil prices. One study has estimated that by the year 2020, U.S. solar capacity is expected to grow by 400-600 more gigawatts, and the costs to drop an additional 10 percent. In 2014, solar power accounted for 32 percent of new energy generating capability, and more than one gigawatt of solar PV was installed.
The U.S. is shifting towards solar energy a bit more slowly than other countries. India and China, are leaning heavily towards renewable energy sources to combat severe air pollution problems that have resulted from the use of fossil fuels. China, in order to improve the air quality of major cities most negatively impacted, increased its solar installation goal for 2015 by 20 percent to 17.8 gigawatts.
According to Wolfgang Palz, of the European Commission’s development program for renewable energies “…the world has installed 130 gigawatts of PV, up from 1.4 gigawatts in 2000…” Europe now has 80 gigawatts of PV capacity. 100 gigawatts could meet the energy needs of 30 million households while saving over 53 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
For those concerned about the inconsistency of solar energy and its dependence on weather, Albert Lundeen, with the California Energy Commission addressed that issue by saying that “Variable renewable resources like solar or wind can be balanced with other resources like geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric which can operate much more like a conventional fossil plant in terms of providing reliable, 24-7 energy”.
Analyses of power sources conclude that “PV electricity contributes 96 percent to 98 percent less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from 100 percent coal and 92 percent to 96 percent less greenhouse gases than the European electricity mix,” according to Carol Olson, a researcher at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands. This is all great news for mother earth.