The End of the Fossil Fuel Age
We are living in the waning last days of the energy sector powered by fossil fuel dependency. For the better part of the past 150 years, substances like coal, oil, and natural gas have been the status quo energy sources of the world. Over the past few decades, we have heard about solar as a clean energy alternative, but we’ve largely treated it like some type of sorcery or mysterious devil’s power. But is it really that strange? The reality may SHOCK you...
A World of Solar Dependency
Consider this: The sun warms the planet, drives the hydrologic cycle, and makes all of life on earth possible. The amount of solar energy received on earth's surface is affected by the angle of the sun relative to the earth, the output of the sun, and the cyclic variations of earth's orbit around the sun. Every movement of your body is powered by energy derived from the food we ingest and the oxygen in the air we breathe. That energy, in turn, has its origin in photosynthesis, which of course is driven by sunlight. Without the sun, all life on earth would soon perish due to neglect and starvation. Every human, animal, insect, and plant on earth has been fundamentally dependent upon the sun for its very existence since the dawn of time.
The basic science of solar energy and the role it plays for earth's climate can be understood by school children, but the complexities of the earth’s energy balance remain an area of active scientific research. Thus, this topic is both elemental and complex.
The Shocking Truth
The shocking truth about solar energy is that as long as the sun and earth have coexisted, the sun has been the primary source of energy for this spinning planet that we call home. So whether you believe the earth has been here for 6,000 years or 4.5 billion, the sun has always been its source of heat, light, and energy. The idea therefore of producing modules in factories to harness solar energy, store it, and redirect it for an intended purpose is actually nothing new. In fact, every time we put away food we are literally doing the same thing—storing solar-based energy for later consumption. By making the switch away from fossil fuels which release sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon, we are merely returning to the way all of life prior to the industrial revolution have always survived and flourished. We are just doing so in a more advanced, technological manner. It is simply a way of consciously leveraging the sun's energy to more effectively power our day-to-day lives.
Returning to the Light
As I write this, a new solar PV system is statistically installed somewhere every 4 minutes. The price of solar today is 227 times cheaper than it was in 1975 when the technology was first being implemented into modern civil life. PV solar is the only form of electricity that requires 0 moving parts, reliant purely on nature to continue as it always has. Every kilowatt of power generated from solar panels prevents 150 lbs of coal, 300 lbs of CO2, and 105 gallons of water from being consumed unnecessarily.
With over a quarter of a million solar jobs and growing in the United States alone, solar energy is a trend that is only growing indefinitely into the future. As more home and business owners opt for solar, and as more states like California and Denver pass solar initiatives to commit to this endless energy resource, we have navigated our path full-circle, returning to the light for warmth, sustainability, and the powering of life itself.
by Ged Friedman