Solar Energy key to sustainability in the state of California

Science Daily recently published an article (Hernandez, 2015) that explored the possibilities of what solar energy can do for the state of California. According to the article, the harnessing of solar energy in California could meet energy demand three to fives times over (Hernandez, 2015). By integrating solar panels into residential and commercial rooftops it will reduce the both the environmental impact and also will not take up additional space. Solar facilities, which produce electricity through concentrating solar power by large mirrors, can be built on undeveloped sites or already degraded areas. By using both photovoltaics such as solar panels and concentrating solar power in tandem, it is estimated that an upwards of 21,000 terawatt-hours of energy/year can be produced in small and utility scale solar power (Hernandez, 2015). Although the initial cost to install such equipment may be unprecedented, the long term success will undoubtedly over look any amount of cost.

Prior research done by Kyle Siler-Evans and Morgan Granger at the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America explains that although southwest states such as California possess the greatest solar resource, a solar panel installed in a northeastern state displaces significantly more environmentally hazardous particulates such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (Evans, Granger, 2012). This is due to the fact that northeastern states rely much more heavily on generators that cause a significant amount of pollution. On the contrary a study published by Nature and Climate Change believes solar energy is the key to sustainability in California even if the results aren’t as appealing. This can be achieved through continuing developing solar energy systems and increasing small and utility scale solar energy in residential and urban areas within California (Hoffacker, Field, 2015).

The original article presented a valid way of solving California’s energy needs but lacked the opposing argument of the issue. I believe that solar energy is certainly a main component to creating a sustainable society.

 

 

Kyle Siler-Evans , Morgan Granger , Lima Azevedo . 2012. Regional variations in the health, environment, and climate benefits of wind and solar generation. National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, cited [March 26, 2015] vol. 110 no. 29 (11768-11773). Available from: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1221978110

Madison K. Hoffacker, Christopher B. Field. Efficient use of land to meet sustainable energy needs.  Nature Climate Change, 2015; Available from: doi:10.1038/nclimate2556

Rebecca R. Hernandez . March 16, 2015. Solar could meet California energy demand three to fives times over [Internet].Nature Climate Change, cited March 26, 2015] . Available from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150316135152.htm

 

3 Responses to Solar Energy key to sustainability in the state of California

  1. Solar energy can be very sucessfully applied as one the major energy sources in a sunny state such as California. The amount of time in which it is possible to pay off the initial investment in instalation of solar panels is significantly shorter than it would be for states in northeast, for example. The huge benefits of using solar panels are, as stated in this article,reducing pollution and not taking any additional space since solar panels could be installed in rural areas. My opinion is that benefits of solar energy largely outweight some negative aspects of it, such as possible toxic exposures while prodicing solar panels, which is already sucessfully regulated in some countries. Intiatives to increase the use of solar industry products, such as panels and CSP plants, in African countries, south Europe and midwest of United States should be supported even from governments since economic benefits can be made in relatively short period of time. Additionally, those areas would be much less dependents on fossil fuels, and they would decrease the environmnetal impact on a larger-scale.

  2. Solar energy is definitely a great potential source of energy, especially in California, a state that is suffering from other environmental impacts such as a severe drought. As stated in the article, after the high initial cost of installing solar energy sources, it is relatively cheap and extremely clean. However, in my opinion, at our current technological level I think there may be better options that solar energy due to the fact that it takes vast amounts of space for solar panels to produce a not so significant amount of energy. Nuclear energy should be further invested instead as it can provide huge amounts of energy 24/7. Solar energy is also limited by the amount of sunlight which could potentially pose a problem.

  3. When it comes to clean energy, solar is definitely the most appealing for a number of reasons. For one, the sun is one of the biggest stars we know of and seems to simply provide heat and other environmental support, yet 99% of its energy is lost in thermal energy when we could use a fraction of that to power the world. It is very efficient and has a sleek look for those who find its appeal worth it. It also isn’t as expensive as it seems. The front costs are very expensive however the ROI (Return on Investment) is high and it pays itself off within the first 10 years and the energy can be used far after that. The issue with solar energy is that no one has found a way to harness and transfer its energy which would be much greater a project. If we were able to this, it wouldn’t be such a locational use. We would then be able to switch completely and use the sun to the maximal advantage. Obviously the cons must be studied more, and the work to improve efficiency and widespread use.

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