In Defense of Solar Energy

By Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

President John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Even in the midst of total chaos, there is an opportunity for people to overcome the crises of life. It gives people the chance to improve the way of doing something while solving a serious problem. One of the major crises that plagues the world today is a worldwide energy shortage. Energy is a major factor of life; it provides electricity, transportation, heat. Unfortunately, it appears as if energy is getting harder to come by. As fossil fuels begin depleting, scientists are left trying to find an alternate source that is both efficient and environmentally friendly. Although there are a lot of good choices out there, solar energy stands out as the most promising

Solar energy is the paramount of success when it comes to energy. Solar energy comes from the sun, which is already a major factor in earth’s survival. This energy is obtained through the use of solar panels. These devices are flat panels that use sand to absorb the light from the sun and convert it into electricity. Many people are skeptical of  solar panels because of the cost, but they are greatly mistaken. Solar panels are capable of solving all of the world’s energy problems in the near future.

Solar panels can do this because they are extremely efficient and environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, because of the delay in support, they are not going to be able to be implemented until the near future. So why should we support the increased use of solar panels?

To begin, solar panels are able to solve most of the world’s energy problems because of their longevity. This is due to the fact that solar panels are given energy from the sun. Jesse Emspak, a columnist for Discovery,  writes, “The sun produces an enormous amount of energy. More than 1,000 watts of per square yard hits Earth’s surface every day. Even a tiny amount of that power could meet the energy needs of the entire planet” (2013, 1). This passage shows that the amounts of solar energy are off the chart. The sun contains a lot of energy, and the beauty of it is that the sun is not going away anytime soon. According to the NASA, the sun is going to survive up to 5 billion more years (Lawrence 2011). This means that the sun is going to last longer than any type of fossil fuel, which makes it the most enduring source. Solar panels will have plenty of time to absorb the sun’s energy long after the fossil fuels have run out.

Another reason to support solar energy is that the efficiency rate of solar panels is constantly increasing. According to an article, “Their new X Series panel currently stands at 21.5%, and it’s projected to increase to 23% by 2015” (Kelly-Detwiler 2013). The X Series is the company Sunpower’s newest model panel. It is capable of converting more energy than any other panel, but the astounding part is that the company is still increasing its efficiency. In the same article, the author writes that it has increased 6% in the last eight years. By 2020 they could be over 50% efficient. This would have an impact on the world so big that they would be vastly superior to the other options.

Furthermore, solar panels are environmentally friendly. During the past decade, more people have started worrying about the environmental costs of energy.  Solar panels are some of the cleanest sources of energy out there. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an article describing all the environmental effects of different type of energy sources. They wrote that solar power is a clean source, “The sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity without toxic pollution or global warming emissions” (2013). Solar panels are not degrading to the environment like fossil fuels. Both fossil fuels and nuclear power contribute to global warming, but not solar panels. Nor do solar panels pose a threat to wildlife. Both fossil fuels and nuclear power can cause serious problems if there is a leak. The BP oil spill of 2010 is still causing damage to the aquatic life in the gulf. This simply is not a risk with solar.

In the final analysis, solar panels offer a lot of answers and raise few concerns. They are capable of providing a large amount of energy, which can be used in a number of ways. Even today, researchers are working on houses and cars that run off solar power. However, it must be re-stated that solar panels are not quite ready for usage. They are still somewhat inefficient and very costly. Once they have achieved a high efficiency rate, they will be in high demand. It is probable, if not certain, that in the coming decades solar panels will emerge as the best source of energy.

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