Argument: Abundant solar energy can replace fossil fuels and slash emissions

Issue Report: Solar energy


“Solar Energy Conversion Offers A Solution To Help Mitigate Global Warming”. Science Daily. 12 Mar. 2007 – ScienceDaily (Mar. 12, 2007) — Solar energy has the power to reduce greenhouse gases and provide increased energy efficiency, says a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, in a report published in the March issue of Physics Today.

Currently, between 80 percent and 85 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels. However, fossil fuel resources are of finite extent and are distributed unevenly beneath Earth’s surface. When fossil fuel is turned into useful energy through combustion, it often produces environmental pollutants that are harmful to human health and greenhouse gases that threaten the global climate. In contrast, solar resources are widely available and have a benign effect on the environment and climate, making it an appealing alternative energy source.

“Sunlight is not only the most plentiful energy resource on earth, it is also one of the most versatile, converting readily to electricity, fuel and heat,” said Crabtree. “The challenge is to raise its conversion efficiency by factors of five or ten. That requires understanding the fundamental conversion phenomena at the nanoscale. We are just scratching the surface of this rich research field.”

Steve Heckeroth. “Solar is the Solution”. Mother Earth News. Jan. 2008 – We know that relying on coal, oil and natural gas threatens our future with toxic pollution, global climate change and social unrest caused by diminishing fuel supplies. Instead of relying on unsustainable fossil fuels, we must transform our economy and learn to thrive on the planet’s abundant supply of renewable energy.

I have been studying our energy options for more than 30 years, and I am absolutely convinced that our best and easiest option is solar energy, which is virtually inexhaustable. Most importantly, if we choose solar we don’t have to wait for a new technology to save us. We already have the technology and energy resources we need to build a sustainable, solar-electric economy that can cure our addiction to oil, stabilize the climate and maintain our standard of living, all at the same time. It is well past time to start seriously harnessing solar energy.

Steve Heckeroth. “Solar is the Solution”. Mother Earth News. Jan. 2008 – “Before you read on, take a moment to study the two corresponding pie charts, which compare the Earth’s estimated total reserves of non-renewable energy resources with the annual renewable energy options. You’ll see that the potential of solar energy dwarfs all other options, renewable or otherwise. To understand why a solar-electric economy is our best option, let’s look at the energy resources we currently depend on and compare them with the solar energy available to us.”

David R. Mills and Robert G. Morgan. “A solar-powered economy: How solar thermal can replace coal, gas and oil.” Renewable Energy World. 3 July 2008 – We all know that concentrating solar thermal technology in California has been delivering ‘no fuel’ electricity for two decades. Now advanced solar thermal electric options are dropping in price and some companies are introducing thermal storage to match power demand. Here, David R. Mills and Robert G. Morgan explain how this technology can deliver very much more. Their modeling shows that solar thermal power could not only replace most fossil-fueled electricity generation in the US, but could replace petroleum-based transportation. They argue it’s not only technically, but economically feasible – and not just for the US but for China and India as well.
The sun is a much larger practical energy resource than any non-direct solar resource. Consequently, solar electricity is the most likely means to nearly eliminate contributions to global warming from electricity generation by mid-century.

Thomas Edison said in 1931. – “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!”[1]