Our world today is currently locked in debate. One that will affect the future generations to come for hundreds of years. The question that has sparked the curiosity of so many is, Is solar energy really the answer to our energy crisis? For starters, let’s begin with the question of, What is this energy crisis everyone is talking about? What does this crisis entail, and is it even real? Many people may be asking themselves these exact questions. Let it be known that this energy crisis may not affect us today, but it will definitely affect our planet in the following years to come. Broadly speaking, this topic of discussion poses three distinct questions:
How long will it be till we run out of energy?
How much energy is technically accessessable to us?
How is the energy source we currently use affect our planet?
One, the majority of energy sources we use today aren’t categorized as renewable. We rely heavily on fossil fuels, which are coal, oil, and natural gas. These sources make up 80% of the energy we use. Our high demand for energy shows little signs of decreasing anytime soon, and in all reality, it will most likely to expand to almost half over the next two decades. Understandably, this has sparked some concern for those who are conscientious of how our actions will affect our future generations. If we do not address this issue with the utmost importance, our global economy and global quality of life may face some devastating consequences (Global economic symposium, 2009).
Two, the security/accessibility of global energy supplies has been continually questioned. Today, much of the oil and gas reserves are held by several small groups within nations. This has previously caused strife between the nations due to an unstable government and questionable relations with other large consuming countries. Concerns over the energy security have prompted some policymakers to seek independence from foreign sources of energy. These government officials hope that if they can break the bond of dependence on foreign energy resources, the more control and safety they will acquire. Eighty percent of today world’s oil reserves are monopolized by three distinct regions: Africa; Russia and the Caspian Basin; and the Persian Gulf; and over half of the world’s remaining gas reserves exist in Russia, Iran, and Qatar (Global economic symposium, 2009).
Three, we are killing our planet with the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the Earth’s atmosphere. This primarily acts as a consequence due to our usage of burning fossil fuels for energy; and in turn, is thought to be the cause of global warming. The debate of whether global warming is real is still ongoing. Some scientists are even ushering us to make a move to prevent the destruction of our world on a massive scale. Now we must take into account our energy source’s accessibility, cost, and its efficiency in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere (Global economic symposium, 2009).
A possible solution to help solve our energy crisis is by improving our energy efficiency. Solar energy not only reduces global emission, but it’s a renewable source that is good for long-term usage. It improves energy security by being renewable, helping us preserve our precious natural resources, and saves everyone money in the long run. The amount of solar radiation available from the sun could easily satisfy the rising demand for energy which our race so desires. The proportion of the sun’s rays that reaches the earth’s surface is enough to provide for global energy consumption 10,000 times over (Parmar, 2010). (Global economic symposium, 2009).
Solar panels not only are a great way to offset energy costs, but they help us offset our carbon footprint on the earth. The switch to solar energy could also help support local businesses and contributing to energy independence. The annual energy costs we pay yearly can easily be in the thousands. In fact, the average annual energy expenditure per person is $3,052, including transportation and residential energy. Solar power can reduce or even possibly eliminate these costs. Not only does this offer long-term savings, but it also makes a significantly larger and cleaner source of energy (Holowka, 2017).
Burning fossils fuels for energy adds pollutants into our air, which have contributed to childhood asthma and other health and environmental problems. Using solar power instead of fossil fuels can help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants in our atmosphere. It will in turn decrease pollutants, which could prevent $167 billion in health and environmental damages. Reducing our carbon footprint could save $259 billion in global climate change damages. Reducing pollutants can prevent unnecessary healthcare costs and could save more than 25,000 lives (U.S. Department of Energy, 2016).
Solar Energy is not only more efficient and better for our world, but it also helps raise the price of one’s house. A study conducted by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded that homes with solar panels sell 20% faster and for 17% more money.
U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the sales price of the average home increased $17,000 with solar panels. You can go a long way in lowering your carbon footprint by replacing utility power with clean electricity from solar panels (Maehlum, 2018).
Solar Energy will help ensure a positive future, but there are multiple other ways one can help the planet. One way is by enforcing a carbon tax – a fee imposed when one burns any carbon-based fuels. This tax could act as the core policy for the reduction and possible elimination of the use of fossil fuels which combust and destroy our climate. A carbon tax would help endorse the reduction of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere. This potential reduction of carbon dioxide could even possibly stop global warming in its tracks. The carbon tax would decrease the usage of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum products such as petrol and aviation fuel, and natural gas); thus, aiding in the solution to our energy crisis. A tax on carbon wouldn’t fix our energy crisis directly, but it could help lead us towards a solution. It will help to decrease the number of greenhouse gasses emitted and push us towards discovering a more efficient source(s). If set high enough, it could become a powerful monetary disincentive that would help motivate the switch to a cleaner source of energy across the economy. By simply enticing those with an economic reward to switch over from non-carbon fuels, it’ll lead us towards a more efficient and clean energy source. (Carbon Tax Center, n.d.). (Commonwealth Parliament & Parliament House, 2013).
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