Solar Energy: The Error in Human’s Dependency on Non-Renewable Energy Source
For a long time, mankind has relied heavily on non-renewable energy sources to the extent that it has become almost impossible to change this tradition. Although these sources of energy solve many problems, they endanger human lives. They pollute the environment in an immeasurable way. Their extractions are risky and harmful to the environment. More importantly, they deplete quickly to the extent that it would be unadvisable to rely on them totality to solve the current energy problems (Wengenmayr, & Buhrke, 2013). In relation to this fact, there is a need to look for an alternative source of energy that will be reliable and less harmful to the environment.
As a solution to the problem, this paper puts forth solar energy as the substitute energy source. The paper argues that the energy in question is reliable and has negligible environmental effects. Accordingly, the source of energy should minimize over-dependence on non-renewable energy sources (Mahaney, 2007). In so doing, the paper acknowledges the fact that solar energy has its inherent problems, but in comparison to non-renewable energy sources, it is far much better.
The paper starts by highlighting its purpose and the postulations that surface its argument. After doing this, it evaluates the data that indicate that mankind relies heavily on non-renewable energy sources. Then the paper provides an overview of solar energy by looking at its uses, principles behind its generation together with its merits and demerits. The last part concludes by combining the facts that support the claim that solar energy is the panacea to the current problems facing the world’s energy sector.
The objective of this paper will be to evaluate the way mankind has over relied on non-renewable energy sources whereas the goal will be to illustrate how solar energy can be a panacea to this problem. Accordingly, desired outcomes will be to see mankind stop over relying on non-renewable energy sources and see him turn attention to solar energy.
Question at Issue
Whereas it is important that mankind should stop over relying on non-renewable energy sources, it remains a challenge designing a way out of this challenge. Therefore, the question at issue is to understand the way mankind will start exploiting solar energy.
While evaluating this issue, the author assumes that mankind is willing to stop over relying on non-renewable energy sources. The author also assumes that mankind is willing to exploit a non-depleting energy source that will be cost effective despite initial cost (Boxwell, 2011).
Implications and Consequences
If mankind is to exploit solar energy, there will be a high initial cost to incur. Presumably, people will be willing to incur this cost to enjoy the benefits of solar energy. If need be, governments will be expected to promote solar energy by offering some incentives.
There is sufficient data indicating that mankind relies heavily on non-renewable energy sources. USA, for example, depends heavily on fossil fuels (Mahaney, 2007). This is in spite of the fact that numerous renewable energy sources can be exploited in USA. Prior to this period, the data indicates that USA relied heavily on coal as its main source of energy. The data also indicates that USA relied heavily on wood as another source of energy during the industrial revolution (Chiras, 2013). However, because wood is a depleting source of energy attention has now shifted to the three sources of energy mentioned earlier on.
The data that was collected in 2008 indicate that oil accounted for 37 percent of the energy that was consumed in USA that year. The data also indicates that natural gas came second with 24 percent whereas coal came third and accounted for about 23 percent of the energy. Nuclear power, which is also a non-renewable fuel, accounted for 8.5 percent of the energy that was consumed that year. While this was the case, renewable energy accounted for 7 percent of the energy. In total, it can be said that fossil fuels account for about 85 percent of the energy that is consumed in USA every year (Chiras, 2013). This is an indication that Americans rely heavily on non-renewable energy sources. Unless something is done about this issue, USA can land into an energy crisis if this energy is to deplete at once.
Canada equally relies heavily on fossil fuels as it source of energy. Indeed, as in USA, fossil fuels account for about 66 percent of the energy consumed in Canada. Given that this practice is replicated in majority of the countries, then industrialization can come to a standstill if the supplies for these energies are to be cut off for a brief moment. If this were to happen, many people would lose jobs. Vehicles would be out of the roads, and almost every household would cease to operate. More importantly, as we learnt from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf, the over-dependence on non-renewable energies would be costly (Chiras, 2013).
Generally, a look at the developed countries indicates that these countries have pinned their developments and economies on natural gas, oil and coal, and to a lesser extent on nuclear power. Emerging economies such as India and China are not different from these countries because there are indications that they too rely heavily on their oil deposits as well as oil deposits from other countries. This suggests that mankind is far away from relying on renewable sources of energy that do not deplete (Boxwell, 2011). Indeed, it is highly likely that less developed countries will follow the same footsteps, and if this will be the case, then there is no doubt that the world will end up in energy crisis.
An Overview of the Energy
The solar energy is a form of energy that comes from the sunlight. This energy is usually generated by harnessing a certain amount of solar that can produce electricity. This amount of energy is about 300 degrees centigrade. Once this amount of energy has been harnessed from the sunlight, the energy is then produced. The two techniques of generating solar energy are solar thermal and photovoltaic. Solar thermal technique captures heat from the sun, concentrates it to one point and uses it to drive heat engines. On the other hand, photovoltaic method involves capturing energy from the sun and converting it to electricity (Williams, 2010).
Given that solar energy comes from the sun, then it is obvious that this form of energy can only be produced during the sunny days. As a result, industries that run their machines using solar energy can only operate during the sunny days. However, these industries circumvent this problem by installing storage systems that can store energy and use it during the night.
In contrast to non-renewable energy, solar energy does not deplete. This means that if industrialization is to be founded on renewable energy, then probable oil crises will be addressed. In spite of this fact, current data indicates that very few countries have invested considerably on solar energy (Boxwell, 2011). Therefore, although there is huge potential in solar energy, the current trend of energy consumption is a worrying one.
The Principle behind Its Generation and Uses
The principle behind the generation and exploitation of solar energy is in its availability. The energy can be produced at any given place so long as that place has plenty of sunlight. In addition, one does not need to transport solar energy from one region to the other, as it is the case for non-renewable energies that have to be transported from their sources to where they are required. In contrast to this practice, solar energy is produced and used in a particular region without necessarily transporting it. Apart from this, solar energy is a clean source of energy given that it does not pollute the air as one uses it (Boxwell, 2011). In addition, the over-dependence on solar energy would not have detrimental effects on human lives and economy as non-renewable energy has had on them. Indeed, it is not possible that solar power will deplete at any given time except the solar system collapses. Given that it is highly unlikely that the solar system will collapse any time soon, there is a need to rely on this type of energy as opposed to relying on non-renewable energy sources.
Uses of Solar Energy
The solar energy like non-renewable ones has a number of uses that range from domestic to industrial uses. Domestic uses include lighting, water heating and other minor electric uses (Barron, 2015). On the other hand, industrial uses include lighting, electricity generation and space heating. The energy is also used in transport industry to power cars as well as spacecrafts (Boer, & Duffie, 1985). In line with these uses, it is apparent that solar energy can reduce over dependence on non-renewable energy sources. In addition, it is clear that the energy can solve almost all domestic energy needs.
Advantages of Solar Energy
In terms of advantages, it would be important to start by noting that in contrast to non-renewable sources, solar energy is to a great extent environmental friendly (Gillaspy, 2016). This is in relation to the fact its production does not pollute the environment as the production of non-renewable energy does. Indeed, small-scale production of solar energy does not pollute the environment in any way even if large-scale production may have some negative effects on the environment. However, these effects can be overcome by producing energy efficiently. It would also be important to note that solar energy comes from a natural source that does not deplete. The implication is that the energy will not stop flowing.
As for the non-renewable energy sources, these energy sources deplete at one pointing time (Hannesson, 2001). Accordingly, unless there are huge deposits, the source will not provide sufficient energy. While on this point, it would be important to note that because solar energy comes from a natural source that is free to everyone, then the energy can be provided to everybody free of charge except the installation cost. More importantly, it would be imperative to point out that solar energy is produced locally. Therefore, nations do not lose foreign currency importing the energy as they do in fossil fuels’ case. Furthermore, monthly energy bills reduce significantly.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
One of the major problems with solar energy is the fact that it can only be captured during the day when there is sunlight. As a result, if one is to rely on this type of energy he/she must have devices such as rechargeable battery to store the energy. Despite the fact that one may need battery once or after some time, the practice increases the cost of producing solar energy. In relation to this fact, it would be worth noting that although solar energy poses as panacea to overreliance on non-renewable sources of energy, its installation may be costly (Smyth, Russell, & Milanowski, 2011). Accordingly, one should be prepared to incur some installation cost if mankind is to stop over relying on non-renewable energy sources. However, this should not be a challenge because after installation one does not incur extra cost except the maintenance cost that may be necessary occasionally.
The other problem with this type of energy is that it is only possible in areas that have plenty of sunlight. This means that areas that do not have plenty of sunlight or areas that have prolonged cold seasons may not benefit significantly from this type of energy. One needs sunlight to install and benefit from solar energy. As a result, if you live in areas that do not have plenty of sunlight, then you are not likely to benefit from solar energy (Sorensen, 2009). Nevertheless, people coming from areas that have plenty of sunlight can benefit significantly from this type of energy. This is a challenge because not everybody can rely on solar energy even if we would want to shift our attention away from non-renewable sources of energy.
Lastly, it would be important to note that massive production of solar energy can affect the environment negatively. This is because such a practice would require land for setting solar towers. However, this is not a big problem because production can take place in dry regions that do not have huge agricultural benefits.
Based on the above discussion, it is clear that even if mankind has relied heavily on non-renewable energy sources for a long time, solar energy can reduce this over-dependence. It is also clear that solar energy serves majority of the energy needs that non-renewable energy sources serve. More importantly, it is clear that solar energy can be accessed easily. Therefore, in contrast to non-renewable energy sources, it can serve majority of the people at almost no cost once installed. Apart from this, it is clear that solar energy is clean thereby does not pollute the environment as non-renewable energy sources do. In addition, it is clear that this form of energy can be stored. Therefore, industries that use this form of energy can operate even during the nights when there is no sunlight so long as they have devices to store the energy. In relation to these facts, it is clear that solar energy is a panacea to the energy challenges facing the energy sector. In particular, solar energy can minimize the over-dependence on non-renewable energy sources that has locked the energy sector.
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