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How Soon Could Solar Replace Coal?

Environmental awareness is at an all time high with people from nations around the world coming together to recognize the growing threat that is climate change. The younger generation has come to realize that conventional methods of producing energy might not be feasible going forward if a clean and healthy world is to be maintained. Coal is one of the energy sources that experts agree needs to be phased out.

Coal has been a mainstay in human energy production for centuries. Ever since the industrial revolution, people have used coal to power things. Imagine the steam engines that crossed the continental United States, or the great ships which crossed the oceans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Unfortunately, coal creates a lot of waste byproduct after combustion. This waste is not only detrimental to the health of people; it is also completely hazardous to the surrounding natural environment. This is because of CO2 emissions.

Solar energy has long been floated as the key to overcoming our dependence on coal. As of now, much of the electricity that powers the United States comes from coal burning plants. This is simply not acceptable if the CO2 levels are needed to come down.

Unlike coal, solar energy does not produce any harmful byproduct. Large solar panels are placed out in an area where they can be in direct contact with sunlight. The UV rays from the sun heat up the panel and convert into electricity, which can then be stored on location in an energy pack.

Converting to solar tomorrow seems like a no brainer when considering only the positives, but the fact is that it is not so simple. Solar panels need to be washed off frequently with water in order to reach their full potential. This can lead to a significant usage of water which is frankly, not very good for the environment.

In addition, solar panels are not very effective outside of a bright and sunny environment. Northern locations with long winters and mild summers would stand to benefit from solar energy significantly less than further south.

There is also the issue of land usage. In California, solar panels are covering up the deserts and taking up precious habitat from a variety of desert flora and fauna. This does not jive very well with the concept of saving the environment through the usage of solar energy.

Before writing off solar completely in light of these facts, it is crucial to take a measured perspective. Solar energy is not the only form of sustainable energy. Windmills and hydro electric are very useful in certain parts of the world. There is also nuclear energy and geothermal.

Solar energy is best used on a local scale. Placing panels on top of a private residence not only grants that dwelling a certain level of autonomy and energy independence, but it also prevents the desert from being covered up by thousands of solar panels Additional energy that a city or region might need can be gathered using one of the other aforementioned methods of sustainable energy.

The world needs to replace coal and it needs to replace it soon. However, solar alone is not going to be up the task. Different forms of alternative energy need to work in conjunction with each other to meet the world’s energy needs. As soon as the right people realize this, we can start replacing coal.