Due to the progressive climate change and environmental pollution, people begin to seek for ways of mitigating these issues. Solar energy is one of the ways out. It is often referred to as a renewable or alternative energy source (Panwar, et al. 1514) because it can be used repeatedly and is a perfect alternative to the fossil fuels. Solar energy has many benefits: it is environmentally friendly, convenient, and economically beneficial. This paper focuses on environmental benefits and cost of solar energy, as well as analyze its impacts on global warming and human life.
Solar energy technologies (SETs) propose unarguable environmental benefits, especially when compared to the conventional energy sources. First, they do not require any additional natural resources for work, therefore, preserving already exhausted fossils (Tsoutsos, et al. 289). Second, SETs have significantly reduced rates of emissions of greenhouse and toxic gases (Tsoutsos et al. 289). For instance, CO2 emissions of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal electric sources are 98-167 g/kWh and 26-38 g/kWh respectively, compared to 955 g/kWh of coal and 818 g/kWh of oil CO2 emissions (Akella, et al. 392). SO2 emissions of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal electric sources are 0.2-0.34 g/kWh and 0.13-0.27 g/kWh respectively, compared to 11.8 g/kWh of coal and 14.2 g/kWh of oil SO2 emissions (Akella, et al. 392). NOx emissions of solar photovoltaic and solar thermal electric sources are 0.18-0.30 g/kWh and 0.06-0.13 g/kWh respectively, compared to 4.3 g/kWh of coal and 4.0 g/kWh of oil NOx emissions (Akella, et al. 392). Third, exploitation of solar energy allows to renew degraded and devastated land, where fossil fuels were excavated (Tsoutsos, et al. 289). Moreover, due to SETs, the number of electricity transmission lines can be reduced. Quality of water supplies also may be improved due to the decreased environment pollution (Tsoutsos, et al. 289).
At first glance, it may seem that the cost of solar and other renewable energy is unjustifiably high, but when they are analyzed more deeply certain benefits begin to appear. Equipment capital per kW capacity of all renewable sources of energy is approximately equal and constitute about $1000, which is quite expensive (Twidell and Weir 10). At the same time, this aspect of the conventional energy supplies constitutes $500, which is considerably lower price. However, if emission control and reduction are taken into consideration equipment capital per kW capacity of the conventional energy sources results into more than $1000. Importantly, solar energy itself is free, while conventional energy supplies are increasingly expensive (Twidell and Weir 10).
Global exploitation of solar energy and other alternative sources of energy may affect global warming greatly. The main contribution of humanity into global warming is excessive release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are mainly released because of the usage of firewood and such fossil fuels as coal, gas, and oil. Studies show that levels of CO2 have increased 31% since 1800 (Panwar, et al. 1514). Exploitation of such devices as solar cookers and solar water heaters in a …