According to studies made by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), solar energy is likely to become the primary source of power within the next 20 years. With the photovoltaic industry continually and consistently bringing down production costs, the price of solar panel installation halved between 2006 and 2010.The European Union (EU) has already stated its target of making solar energy responsible for as much as 20% of Europe’s electricity supply, by 2020. However, the EPIA has made a more conservative recommendation, suggesting that renewable energy will probably cater for 12% of the demand in that timeframe. Either way, it looks as though governments are finally giving solar power the consideration it deserves.
As an energy source, solar power is incredibly attractive for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is clean. Solar panels in particular do not emit any harmful gases or radiation that might contribute to global warming. In addition, they have a guaranteed lifespan of at least 25 years; quarter of a century without any destructive pollutants or emissions. On top of that, the creation of solar panels is also a very clean process; the majority of reputable solar panel manufacturers have a virtually insignificant carbon footprint and use the minimum energy in production.
Solar power has the edge
In addition, the very fact that solar panels utilise sunlight to create electricity is the potential source of energy security for many countries across the globe – which, in turn, offers a great reduction in the tension and stress that fossil fuels create. However, the fact that solar power can be generated almost anywhere on the planet has another benefit, in that it takes the weight off long-distance electricity transmission networks. In this respect, solar power has the edge over both hydro and carbon-generated energy installations, as these are often located some distance from where the power is consumed.
A realistic target?
Finally, solar energy reaches peak production at the same time that electricity reaches peak demand: during the day. This fact alone makes it a suitable candidate to replace carbon fuel sources, which are widely acknowledged to be responsible for a large portion of harmful emissions.
Whether the EU’s target is realistic or not remain to be seen. However, local communities and individuals can certainly benefit from harnessing the power of the sun.