Could solar panels affect climate change (worldwide)?
Solar panel systems are becoming more and more popular every day, and there are good reasons for this, not least of which, cutting down reliance on fossil fuels and attempting to mitigate climate change. Of course, we have a long way to go before all energy is regenerated from renewable sources.
As solar panels become more affordable, energy prices otherwise soar, and there is a spike in solar sales, we take a look at what could happen should the world switch to solar.
50% of the World’s Roofs Could Power the Planet
One study determined that only 50% of the world’s roofs covered in solar panels would generate enough electricity to decarbonise our electricity supply. The study collected data from millions of buildings, their rooftops and 50.1 million square miles of land surface area (nearly the total land surface area of Earth), as well as variables of location/light percentage.
Energy production is currently responsible for over 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and electricity and heat account for over 30% of that energy. Generating our power from renewable solar panel sources would therefore massively reduce our global carbon emissions and it would only take half the world’s roofs to do it!
Solar Panels Decrease Solar Radiation and Climate Temperature
Solar panels absorb sunlight to turn it into electricity. This means the solar radiation is not absorbed by the land. Another study predicted that in order to solar power the world, it would be most effective to panel desert areas. In such locations solar radiation absorbed by the land could be reduced by 19%, cooling those regions by 2°. This in turn would reduce temperatures globally.
Solar Panels Could Reverse Predicted Climate Conditions
The same study predicted a significant reduction of precipitation in desert areas blanketed with solar panels. Less clouds would produce in the area and this would have a knock-on effect on global Jetstream’s. Where parts of Asia and Australia are predicted to see more rain, Europe, parts of North America, tropical Africa are to see less, the study predicted the opposite would take place.
Affecting the climate in such a way is not, however, a good thing. It’s hard to know what will happen under new conditions compared to set predictions. The study concludes that this effect of precipitation is only in the desert areas model and that solar panels spread worldwide and more conservatively are more realistic. Furthermore, not quite as much electricity is needed as that generated by the deserts model.
Overall, the positive effects solar panels would have on the climate would be far more positive than negative. A reduction in greenhouse gases by around 20% would greatly make up for any drawbacks, such as direct climate impact or production of the panels themselves.
This is why strides towards a solar future are still being made.
If you are interested in a solar future contact Flowing Energy Solutions today.
With prices dropping and even government grants for solar panels, there’s never been a better time to step towards our eco-friendly future.