THE LATEST THINKING
The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.
Despite concerning political maneuvers, the global solar energy industry continues to evolve, offering the planet a reliable and economical energy alternative.
Like many global citizens, I was thrilled at the development and subsequent ratification of the Paris Climate Accord. As a freelance writer, I have been covering alternative energy sources for several private clients, so I was familiar with both the opportunities they offer as well as the need for their existence: the planet simply cannot continue to rely on polluting or contaminating energy sources. The Paris Accord represents both an acknowledgment of the towering concern of Climate Change, as well as an unprecedented unification of the human race around a critical, common issue. What's not to love?!
So, recent indications that one country intends to withdraw from the Accord made me concerned that other nations might also retreat from their commitment to Climate Control activities. However, I have learned that that specific political climate may actually be spurring new developments in renewable energy industries, including my favorite: the solar power industry.
Solar Energy Basics
The process of converting sunlight to generate electricity may have taken time to mature, but it appears to have reached critical mass (available for use as a public utility) in just the past two decades or so.
In essence, "photovoltaic" cells generate electricity passively by converting sunlight photons (the "photo" part) into electricity (the "voltaic part") that is exactly the same as the electricity generated by hydroelectric dams and coal-fired power plants. Over the years, the design and construction of photovoltaic cells have evolved so that now they are used not just in solar panels but also as rooftop shingles, glazing for skylights, and even building facades. In these new configurations, the use of solar energy for all purposes is more economical and accessible than it has ever been before.
Solar Energy Industry Achievements
Global industries are embracing these solar power evolutions and are investing in the resource at a faster pace than ever seen before, too:
· In 2017, the global solar market grew by 26 percent;
· That year, the global solar electricity generation capacity grew by 99 giga-watts (GW) and is on track to add another 106 GW of installed solar power in 2018.
· Both China and Europe are leading the solar installation charge; Germany alone installed 1,580 solar mega-watts between January and November of 2017, bringing its total solar generation capacity to 42.8 GW. Just one GW of electricity can power up to 750,000 homes and replace two coal-fired plants.
Solar Energy offers the Planet A Bright Future (Pun Intended)
There appears to be no stopping the renewable energy industries in general, and solar energy producers in particular, as the world cleans up its energy development act. The readily available fuel source offers power-generation opportunities to communities in all corners of the globe and I'm excited to share with you how today's brightest minds are harnessing this amazing resource.