How solar energy compares to other renewable sources of energy
As the world progresses towards sustainability, our attention has turned to the eternal sources of green energy surging around us in nature – including sun, wind, water and biomass. There was never any doubt about the magnitude of these supplies, the challenge lied in harnessing them.
Here, we explain how solar energy stacks up against other forms of renewable energy.
Solar versus Wind
Like Solar PV, wind power is a mature technology with potential to supply a significant fraction of our power needs. While wind power is cost effective in many parts of the world, it is less versatile than solar PV. Wind patterns vary greatly, so turbines must be placed in specific locations which are often far from population centres where power is not needed. Solar PV, on the other hand, can be deployed close to load centres. This reduces the burden on transmission lines – and in the case of onsite or rooftop solar, there is no reliance on transmission lines at all.
Solar versus Hydro
Hydroelectricity, though effective, is generally supplied through the use of large dams which takes years to develop and require large investments. Also, building a dam has the ability to alter an entire ecosystem.Humans have to be relocated, and hydro plants often change the natural flow of the waterways they take over, creating new lakes and reducing water flow downstream. These installations can also affect wildlife in the area, blocking fish migration and altering habitats. These dams sometimes submerge forests, so their contribution to reducing climatic change is doubtful in some cases.
Photovoltaic panels, on the other hand, do not alter their environment and can be built in a matter of months. One of the advantages of solar power is its versatility. A land or roof installation can be set up almost anywhere as sunshine varies much less than wind or rainfall.
Solar versus Biomass
Burning biomass to generate electricity has some appeal as biomass is renewable in some sense. However, the logistics and overall energy balance undermine this argument, as a lot of energy – mostly oil based – is required to harvest and move the crops to the power station. Biomass also creates volatile organic compounds like carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Photovoltaic cells prove superior again as they create no emissions and do not require fertile land that could be used for crops.
Solar energy has come at par with the grid tariffs for most commercial and industrial consumers in India. If you’ve been thinking about going solar, there’s no better time than now to do it. Adding solar energy to your factory is an excellent project for several reasons: You’ll save loads on electricity, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint; and solar PV systems are simple to maintain as there are no moving parts. You’ll also support a growing industry, and in doing so, help contribute to the worldwide adoption of a clean energy source.