Solar Power: the future of energy

Executive Director of the Planetary Development Institute


Solar energy is the one solution to the energy crisis, that above all other sources seems to make the most sense. The hunt for energy from fossil fuels continues to cause problems for our planet.

Fossil fuels have become a source of speculation and speculators want to earn money. Fossil fuels mean power and supplies may be forthcoming or cut off at will, which could lead to war.

Fortunately the search for gas or oil seems to be losing ground to a new revolution… Solar Energy.

One of the myths about solar energy is that it takes up a lot of room. The truth is that a solar energy plant that covered about 300,000 square kilometers in the Sahara Desert would be enough to meet the global need for electricity. From a global perspective, this is a modest area.

As the world continues to suffer at the will of fossil fuel giants whom maintain the balance of power, the technologies are often seen as an “uneconomically viable alternative.”

Global energy generated by renewables could increase up to 10 times on current levels by mid-century, a landmark study by a United Nations climate change body has found.

In a report released this March in Abu Dhabi, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says detailed analysis it has carried out finds renewables will most likely contribute more than 17 per cent of the planet’s primary energy supply by 2030, and more than 27 per cent by 2050.

This is not the case as many leaders in solar energy technology have seen massive growth in their industry.

If we are to face the future and leave the planet in a respectable condition for the next generations, we must put aside selfish profiteering and embrace the sun!

Some solution in form of Solar PV.{Photo Voltaic (PV) }

Solar PV is not yet competitive with fossil fuel, like natural gas, from the perspective of a utility that can either build a new natural gas power plant or invest in solar installations

For a commercial power user, say a business with plenty of rooftop space, the cost of generating your own electricity is now on par with what the business would need to pay in retail electricity prices. In that sense, grid parity has been achieved for commercial-scale installations. But this is subject to two important qualifiers. The facility has to be in a favorable location, with lots of sunshine all the year round , and secondly the business must be able to take advantage of the federal tax subsidies eg in USA & Germany.

Concerning the future, and this may sound like a joke, the future of solar PV looks rather bright. The industry has consistently been able to lower the cost of solar panels. If this trend can be maintained for the next 10 years, and if subsidies are continued for that period, there is a real prospect for solar to become cost competitive on its own (that is, without a subsidy), at least for commercial installations. Utility-scale installations will take longer to become competitive; possibly 15 years, though it obviously becomes murkier to make projections that far into the future.

For all the goods that China's factories crank out under foreign companies' names, China has produced precious few globally recognized brands. But China's solar-panel companies, including Suntech, sell their wares under their own names around the planet. It's a particular point of pride in China that the country, often criticized in the West as a polluter and a maker of inferior goods, has come to dominate an industry widely seen as green and futuristic. To be sure, the solar-panel industry uses a lot of coal-fired electricity, consumes huge quantities of chemicals, and cranks out what's basically a commodity product. But those inelegant details tend to be lost in the public discussion.

According to the Center for Science and Environment in Delhi, solar energy has finally “arrived” – it is now causing trade wars between the US, Europe and China, which tells you that this sector is growing and is lucrative (hence all the competitiveness). Today, solar energy is positioned to become a new source of power to lead the world to a low-carbon future and hopefully, away from a global climate catastrophe (caused by rising emissions from burning fossil fuels). For solar energy to become so cheap that it can compete with coal and oil, its deployments needs to be greatly scaled up.

That is happening already – not just in the western countries like Germany and Spain, but also in the developing world. In South Asia, Bangladesh and India are quickly deploying this technology already, which is becoming cheaper each year. The Chinese have actually managed to bring down prices in the last few years – it is estimated that in 2011 Photo Voltaic (PV) modules cost 60 per cent less than what they did in 2008. Today, China has a glut of solar panel production and Chinese manufacturers that supply most of the world’s solar panels are struggling to avoid bankruptcy after expanding too fast. The resulting plunge in solar-panel prices means that investors can expand into new markets. Pakistan can use this opportunity to request the Chinese government for major solar power installation financed by China. Instead of talking about nuclear and coal, we should be seriously considering this modern, renewable energy, which is THE energy of the future.