Why does our Planet’s Future Depend on the use of solar energy?

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Adopting sustainability and using renewable sources of energy are the only solutions for humankind to save our planet from climate
change. Solar power is present in abundance and is a renewable source of energy that can meet all of our future energy needs. The technological advances over the past two decades have been effective in harnessing this potential of solar energy by decreasing cost, enhancing tapping, storage and transmission. The advancements in solar technologies promise multiple reliable and cost-efficient options.

Let’s look at the statistics of the last four years from May 2014 to Jan 2018. India’s solar generation capacity has increased from 2,650MW to over 20 GW. According to February 2020 data, the country’s solar installed capacity reached 34.404GW. Given these achievements, India has the lowest capital cost per GW to install solar plants worldwide. 38% of the country’s renewable energy is solar powered.

It is estimated that India receives sunlight that is enough to generate nearly 5000 trillion kilowatt-hours/year of solar energy. The
country’s solar energy is more than the combined output of all fossil fuel energy reserves in a single year. On average, the solar-power-plant generation capacity in India per day is over 0.20kWh of considered land area. It is roughly equivalent to 1400-1800 peak capacity operating hours in a year with the present, commercial-stated technology.

The solar industry has specific challenges to overcome before it gains a household application. A major issue faced in solar energy
is its storage, as Solar power can be used in the daytime when the sun is there, but during the night or in Cloudy weather, the storage of solar energy becomes crucial. Thus, energy storage plants are needed to hold excess energy, which can be later be distributed.

The other challenge is to come up with clear cost-reduction roadmaps, which reduces the current cost to “halve by 2030.” This can be achieved by developing newer technologies with higher efficiency models for generating, storing, and distributing solar power. In addition, production innovations to replace the use of precious and rare materials, such as silver and silicon, in the manufacture of solar cells can bring down the cost of solar equipment. There are design innovations such as bifocal modules that allow panels to capture solar energy from both sides.

Finally, we need to find solutions to how best to integrate solar power into homes, businesses and power systems. This means developing better infrastructure and electronics equipment best suited for solar power transmission.