RENEWABLE ENERGY FACTS
With worldwide carbon emissions at a staggering 16 million tons every 24 hours, and global energy consumption expected to increase 40-50% by the year 2010.
- The Sun has sufficient helium mass to provide the Earth with energy for another 5 billion years and, every 15 minutes, it emits more energy than humankind uses in an entire year.
- The Earth receives only one half of one billionth of the Sun’s radiant energy, but, in just a few days, it gets as much heat and light as could be produced by burning all the oil, coal and wood on the planet.
- The Sun represents 99.8% of the total mass of our solar system, its surface temperature is 6000ºC, and its total energy could melt an ice cube the size of planet Earth in just 30 minutes.
- The sun provides and has provided all the energy that we use.
- Worldwide, some 2 billion people are still without electricity and, for these populations, it is more economically viable to install solar panels than to extend established electricity grids.
- By using renewable energy systems we are by passing the millions of years that it takes to create the conventional fuel sources that are used today.
- It is reported that the earth’s reserves of oil will run out within the next 50 to 70 years.
In more recent times, the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels have seen the world’s interest in solar energy systems gather even further momentum. With issues such as global warming and carbon emissions now scientifically proven and firmly on the political agenda, the demand for photovoltaic technologies is set to continue apace.
Here are some key milestones in the rise of solar energy :
- 1976 The NASA Lewis Research Center starts installing 83 photovoltaic power systems across the globe, to provide vaccine refrigeration, room lighting, medical clinic lighting, telecommunications, water pumping, grain milling and classroom television.
- 1977 Worldwide photovoltaic production exceeds 500 kilowatts.
• 1982 Volkswagon of Germany begins testing photovoltaic arrays mounted on the roofs of Dasher station wagons, generating 160 watts for the ignition.
- 1983 Worldwide photovoltaic production exceeds 21.3 megawatts.
- 1985 The University of South Wales breaks the 20% efficiency barrier for silicon solar cells under 1-sun conditions.
- 1992 A 7.5 kilowatt prototype dish system using an advanced stretch membrane concentrator becomes operational.
- 1994 The first solar dish generator using a free-piston Stirling engine is connected to an existing utility grid.
- 1996 The world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane, the Icare, with 3,000 super-efficient solar cells, flies over Germany.
- 1999 Worldwide photovoltaic production exceeds 1000 megawatts.
- 2000 Astronauts at the International Space Station begin installing solar panels on what becomes the largest solar power array deployed in space.
- 2002 Japan installs 25,000 solar rooftops on homes throughout the country.
- 2003 Global investment in solar and wind power exceeds US$20 billion per annum.
- 2006 Worldwide photovoltaic production exceeds 1,744 megawatts.
One truth about life in the 21st century is that we depend, almost critically, on a constant flow of electricity. Without it, our economic, political and social infrastructures are thrown into chaos.
As an example of this, the Amazon. COM company loses $1 million each minute when a power disruption makes its website unavailable. As worldwide demand for energy continues to rise exponentially, systems designed for the expected loads and capacities of yesteryear are prone to failures such as power outages and wide scale blackouts.
What’s more, many forms conventional electricity production – from oil fields and gas pipelines to nuclear power plants and hydro-electricity stations – are vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters as well as vandalism, sabotage and acts of war or terrorism.
Renewable energy systems, on the other hand, allow us peace of mind with regard to electricity supply. They provide us with a highly reliable, low-cost source of power, and can operate independently in homes, office towers, shopping malls, administrative centers and government.
Every day, more and more people across the globe are seeking ways in which they as individuals can contribute to a cleaner, greener future for our planet. If you are considering solar power for domestic use, we commend you and hope the information provided here allows you to make an informed judgment about PV systems.
Renewable energy has almost no environmental impact :
Studies show that more than one third of consumers are willing to pay at least $10 per month more for energy sources that do not harm the environment. As a clean and silent energy alternative, PV systems produce no atmospheric emissions, greenhouse gases, noise pollution or hazardous waste.
Renewable energy is a highly reliable source of electricity :
Renewable energy offers an independent energy source and can keeping electricity flowing during power outages. Today’s state-of-the-art Renewable energy systems have been so refined that they can generate sufficient power in all weather conditions – even on extremely overcast days.
Renewable energy systems are very low-maintenance :
Because modern solar systems have no moving parts and are stress-tested for such things as hail impact and high wind cycles, occasional visual checks and battery services are all the maintenance required.
Renewable energy costs very little to operate :
Obviously, Solar systems use sunlight to produce electricity, so the energy source is free. Once installed, solar panels generates electricity with little upkeep and minimal operating costs.
Solar power systems are now architecturally designed :
Bulky and intrusive solar power panels are a thing of the past. Today’s streamlined solar modules – available in a variety of colors and styles – are, in fact, used as architectural design elements and can be seamlessly incorporated into roofs, skylights, awnings, entrances and facades.
Across the globe, new business models and political paradigms are recognizing the economic benefits of embracing alternative energy sources. This is because alternative energy, including Solar Power, can play an important role in delivering greater economic prosperity in Western countries and the developing world.
In Developed Economies :
By reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, renewable energy systems contribute to stabilizing energy prices and, in turn, to moderating the transport cost component of commodities and mineral resources. Both of these factors are proven to be intrinsically linked to improved consumer confidence and economic growth.
Given that they draw on a free and constant energy source, renewable energy systems are also helping to enhance the reliability of power grids and reduce the costs to business of power outages. In the U.S. alone, blackouts are estimated to cost the economy more than $119 billion a year.
In addition, solar energy now supports an industry all of its own and provides hundreds of thousands of jobs across the globe. With demand growing at around 25% per annum over the past 15 years, associated industries such as engineering, science, architecture, construction, planning and industrial design now generate significant revenue from renewable energy development.
In Developing Economies :
One of the fastest-growing markets for solar power systems is in providing electricity to villages in developing countries, where the cost of extending existing utility grids is prohibitive. The provision of a free and plentiful electricity source via solar power has a resoundingly positive economic impact, both within these countries and for those nations providing foreign aid.
By delivering power for water supply, refrigeration, lighting, medical clinics and other basic needs, solar power is contributing enormously to the improvement of health and hygiene in hundreds of the world’s remote villages. Moreover, many of these villages are gaining the benefits of improved literacy, education and communications.
The result of solar power installations in developing nations is a reduced reliance on economic and humanitarian aid, and an ability to reduce the foreign debt of third world countries, where as much as 90% of export earnings are used to pay for imported oil.
Climate change is a rapidly advancing human crisis that threatens millions of lives, natural species and the environment, according to leading international scientists.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a group of thousands of renowned international scientists who provide authoritative advice on climate change – predicts drastic negative effects if climate change continues at its historic levels, including:
- Increased risk of extinction for up to 30% of the world’s natural species by 2020 and total extinction of 40% of the world’s species by 2080.
- Increased natural disasters – such as flood, wildfire and storms.
- Increased mortality from heat waves, floods and droughts.
- Destruction of coral reefs and melting of polar regions, raising sea levels by 13 to 20 feet.
- Millions of deaths worldwide and enormous increases in poverty and hunger.
Climate change is caused by the build-up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is produced by human activities such as employing industrial processes, using fossil fuels as an energy source and destroying forests which assist in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
To address climate change we must dramatically reduce our greenhouse gases emissions, primarily by moving away from traditional sources of energy to more efficient and renewable sources. This requires understanding and commitment at all levels – including government, business and individuals.