The Unexpected Effects of Global Warming on Solar Energy

The Unexpected Effects of Global Warming on Solar EnergyAmidst the ongoing discussions on solar energy and its potential benefits there is surprisingly little talk as to the affect that the warming of the planet will have on this power source. There is direct correlation between the use of solar panels as an energy source and global warming. However, in order to understand this correlation, a brief explanation as to the basic distinctions of solar panels is required.

There are two broad categories when it comes to the different types of solar energy harvesting techniques. The first category is that of photovoltaic panels—often referred to as PV panels. This method makes use of components called semiconductors. These semiconductors serve to convert direct sunlight into electricity. The second method is known as Concentrated solar power (CSP). This is a technique which utilizes powerfully reflective mirrors in order to generate heat; this heat is then converted into power.

The affects which global warming will have on the planet are wide-spread and varied. Many systems—both natural and man-made—will experience dramatic changes with the increase in temperature. Electricity gleaned from the heat of the sun is especially susceptible to these changes—making it odd that it is talked about so little in discussions on global warming. Interestingly, the anticipated affects of a global rise in temperature are not all positive for the industry. As the temperature of the planet increases, weather patterns can drastically turn.

Experts predict that in places like the American south-west the solar power output could drop as much as 6% by the year 2080. Despite the fact that an increase in temperature would seem like an extra boost for the industry, it is actually sometimes the case that certain areas are becoming more susceptible to cloud-cover. Clouds blocking sunlight is one of the most effective ways that the weather can disrupt the output from solar panels.

This being said, not all areas will experience a drop in output. As a matter of fact, many areas will, in fact, be increasing the amount of solar power produced. Many parts of Europe, China, Australia, and others are predicted to experience increases in output by as much as 10%—solely from the increase in temperature. These areas are already quietly preparing for the changes predicted by scientists.

Many are conducting research to find out what type of solar power will be optimal in the years ahead. To effectively implement this type of electrical harvesting, it is required that a group looks ahead in terms of climate change during the planning process. Solar panels are not cheap, especially when implemented on a economy sized scale. This is where the differences between PV and CSP solar power are of a subject of importance. Though both methods will produce energy anywhere that sunlight makes it to the surface, either one might be more or less effective depending on the specific environment where they are employed.

Fortunately, the scientific community conducts new research on this subject, turning up new and helpful information with each study preformed. This knowledge can help empower the human race; allowing us the chance to take hold of the future and create the best scenario possible with the tools at our disposal, tools such as solar energy.

Editorial Team
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