Forecasts about the future of solar energy tend to be rosy and optimistic, but is the solar revolution really a nobody-loses scenario? A study lead by Aixue Hu (2017) titled “Impact of solar panels on global climate” addresses some infrequently mentioned concerns.
It turns out that solar energy systems have consideration-worthy regional consequences. But you may ask: why? Solar panels are not 100% efficient, they are actually fairly far from it. The most efficient solar panels on the market today run at around a 40% efficiency, with some new technologies promising around 60%, however most are much lower. A few issues arise in the conversion of solar energy into electricity. Firstly, a small percent of the solar radiation is reflected, as a result of solar panels’ glare. Then, another few percent are lost in the conversion of direct-current into alternating current and along the transmitting wires to centers of population. The authors estimate the mentioned causes to sum to about a 10% loss. Continue reading →
With the inauguration of Donald Trump, and a cabinet full of climate deniers, it is now up to states to lead the charge in the fight against climate change. California, a trailblazer in climate change initiatives, will be very important in the upcoming four years to help lead the country on green initiatives. Even before the Trump Administration took office Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco—a newly elected California state senator—started proposing a new solar panel legislation. Continue reading →
In an article in Popular Mechanics from February 9th, Jay Bennett examines the details and implications of a recent announcement by the French Minister of Ecology and Energy, Ségolène Royal, that France intends to build over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of solar roads. The country will commission the road building company Colas as well as the National Institute of Solar Energy to complete the project. It is estimated that the project will be able to provide clean energy for 8-10% of the French population and is expected to be completed in the next 5 years. Continue reading →
An intriguing article by Joshua S. Hill, on the Clean Technica blog posted in December of 2015, examines an attempt by the head of state of African nations to lead a coalition called the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The primary objective of the AREI is to provide the continent of Africa with 300 GW of renewable energy by 2030. AREI aims to produce 10 GW by 2020, so already we can infer that significant progress is intended to be made over those ten years. This article caught my attention because it is closely related to a documentary I recently watched called Burning in the Sun. This film portrays the mission of West African and Italian Daniel Dembélé on his quest to bring electricity to the rural communities of the Sahara Desert. Immediately after reading the article about AREI, I made the connection between the article and the film. I began to realize that (contrary to popular belief or at least contrary to the non-existent amount of information you hear from media outlets about positive initiatives taking place in Africa) there are people in the world after all who are aware of people living in regions of Africa that do not have access to energy resources, and are taking a stab at resolving some of those issues. Continue reading →