The future looks bright, the future is solar

by Emily Buckley
(Sydney, NSW, Australia)

In the UN Environmental Program’s fifth edition of its Global Environmental Outlook, published at the end of June, a dramatic but highly realistic statement was made. The report maintained that the world is failing to make any significant headway towards its important and necessary environmental objectives and is on an ‘unsustainable path.’

This is far from scaremongering. We are still far too reliant on fossil fuels for energy, despite the fact that they are rapidly diminishing. The world needs to adopt a greener, more sustainable source of energy if it is to survive.

The good news is, one already exists and is rolling out to more and more consumers every day. Solar power, generated from solar panels erected on rooftops, is a great solution for homeowners and businesses wanting to minimise electricity bills and reduce their impact on the environment.

Solar power utilises photovoltaic solar panels to harness the energy of the sun to generate electricity and power your home or business. That electricity directly powers your appliances and any that’s left over is fed back into the grid, from which you could receive a feed-in tariff.

Not many households generate more energy than they need, in fact many find they have a shortfall most days but anything extra they need can be taken from the grid. Ultimately, however, those with solar panels rely a lot less on mains electricity to power their homes, which means money is saved, less environmental damage is created, and the path to energy independence is begun.

The major advantages for homeowners opting to install solar panels is that energy generated from the sun
is completely free. There is of course the initial investment but many countries now operate subsidies to encourage people to buy solar panels.

In the long term, once that investment is recovered, you could be looking at free energy for your home! A typical home solar system in a sunny climate generates around 1400 kWh of electricity per year, which amounts to around 20% of an average household’s daily wattage.

Obviously the more panels you invest in, the more you can reduce your electricity bills. Even with just a few panels you could save over $100 a month and over 20 years it could amount to $20,000, perhaps even more depending on the inevitable rise of electricity prices.

So does solar power have the potential to become a mainstream power source? The number of homes and businesses which are switching to solar on a daily basis would suggest so. Investors, especially those in sunny areas, are worried about the availability and eventual cost of dwindling oil and natural gas in the years to come and are opting to go solar.

There are even now a few cases where whole towns are powered by solar energy. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that the sun is always there, generates a huge amount of energy, and is free. In the face of our ‘unsustainable path,’ that is a comforting thought.

Emily Buckley is passionate about saving energy for a sustainable future and has written many articles in collaboration with the Australian solar energy provider AGL Energy, about how we can all save both energy and money to help build a better planet.

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