U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters

Abstract

The feasibility of using solar panels for our energy is based on the compatibility of solar panels in different weather conditions, the difference solar panels can make in the fight against global warming, and the cost of solar panels compared to our current method of gaining energy/electricity.

Solar panels are a feasible option for a more reliable and sustainable energy source. They can work in different weather conditions, maybe not as well, but they still get energy that can be converted into electricity.

Although this energy source can be considered pricey, in the long run it saves the owner money.

Solar panels convert sunlight to energy that people can use, rather than burning gases and fossil fuels like the current way people gain energy. Our current energy source causes global warming due to the greenhouse effect. Since solar panels would not be burning any gases/fossil fuels, they could help reduce global warming.

Anyone considering making the switch to solar panels should consider these recommendations:

  •  Solar panels can still function when the sun is not completely out, but the panels purchased need more advanced technology, than the average solar panel.

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  • Solar panels have been getting better over the years, so purchase the latest one for the best results.
  •  Solar panels are considered a renewable energy source, meaning they will last.
  • The current way we gain electricity is a factor of global warming, so help the environment and use solar panels as your energy source.
  • Solar panels are pricey in the short run but save money in the long run.

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Introduction

Over the past one hundred and fifty years, we have started to feel the effects of global warming. Global warming is mainly caused from the use of gases, such as fossil fuels. “Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as ‘forcing’ climate change” (Shaftel, Jackson, Callery, & Bailey 2020). Those gases and fossil fuels power most of the things our society uses on a daily basis. Specifically, those gases mainly power our electricity and everything that uses electricity. There is a possible way to decrease the number of gases used and emitted into our atmosphere. This is through the use of solar panels.

Ever since solar panels have come out, many people, mainly large corporations, have tried to ignore this new technology. However, solar panels could be the answer to slowing climate change and global warming. If the world were to adopt solar panels as its new energy source, the possibilities could prove beneficial.

Solar panels create energy and electricity through absorbing sunlight from the sun. Instead of burning gases and fossil fuels to obtain energy, solar panels merely absorb an abundant resource and store it until it is used. That stored energy can be used for many different things. For example, it can generate electricity even in remote locations, it is portable and can be used anywhere, it can heat water, it can charge batteries, it can reduce electricity bills and make money, it can reduce people’s carbon footprint, it can reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and it can increase energy security (Clean Energy Ideas 2019).

After reviewing what solar panels can be used for, I am sure the government and Environmental Protection Agency have a few questions:

  •  Will solar panels work in all weather conditions and provide enough energy?
  •  Are solar panels going to make a huge difference?
  •  How much would it cost to implement solar panels as our new energy source?

To help answer these questions that the EPA or the government might have, this feasibility report analyzes how solar panels work, how effective solar panels are, global warming statistics and the main cause for climate change (including the current way we gain energy and the benefits and risks to this source), and how much solar panels cost compared to the energy source currently in place.

Data Section

Before considering whether solar panels are the best option for a new energy source, we need to consider possible weather scenarios that might impact their performance and how good their performance is.

Solar panels working in different weather conditions. Solar panels require sunlight to convert solar energy to electricity. The main factor that has to be considered is the different weather conditions, such as a stormy day versus a day with full sun exposure. Some of the solar panels do not work as well in different weather conditions, but scientists have come up with an all-weather solar panel. It uses “dye-sensitized solar cells, thin film photovoltaic cells that act a bit like photosynthesis. When light hits the dye in the cells, this excites electrons, which kick off the electrical generation…When raindrops hit the graphene-coated solar cells, the salt in that water separates into ions” (Botkin-Kowacki 2016). Figure 1 shows this process, in which the rain is converted to an ion or charge and is converted by the solar panel into energy we can use. Although this type of solar panel does not convert as much energy a regular solar panel might convert, the technology can be improved to gain more of a conversion.

The amount of energy stored in solar panels. Solar panels covert approximately 22.5 percent of sunlight into energy (Botkin-Kowacki 2016). With twelve hours of sunlight a day, that is a lot of energy stored. Looking at our current method of gaining energy “the stock of energy in the form of natural gas, oil, and coal is equivalent to the energy of only 20 days of sunshine” (Sebbagh 2018). A lot of the energy sources we use now are being depleted and solar energy collected from the solar panels can sustain our needs better than our current energy method.

The Difference Between the Different Energy Sources. After discovering we are in a state of global warming, we have to consider what is causing it and make a change. It has been determined that the current way we gain energy is causing some of our issues, solar panels might be a way to reduce the severity of global warming.

The current energy source (gases/fossil fuels) has a big role in global warming.

Figure 2 depicts the different energy sources used to generate our electricity across the United States. Most of the sources we use are considered non-renewable resources. That means, once our supply of resources run out, we no longer have that resource to depend on. Currently, our main source of energy comes from gases. Gases are non-renewable resources and they are not as abundant as we would like. The gases that we use for our electricity are getting trapped in the atmosphere and causing what is known as the Greenhouse Effect. The Greenhouse Effect is the “warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space” (Shaftel, Jackson, Callery, & Bailey 2020).

Solar panels might be the key to bringing greenhouse gases down. Solar panels acquire energy through the use of direct sunlight. It converts sunlight into energy and does not require other resources to help gain enough energy. “Solar energy is sustainable, renewable, inexhaustible, and environmentally friendly” (Sebbagh 2018). Since, solar panels only require sunlight, it is considered a renewable source for energy. It also does not burn any gases and does not release any harmful chemicals into the atmosphere like carbon dioxide (CO2). “In 2018, total U.S. electricity generation…resulted in the emission of 1.87 billion metric tons…of carbon dioxide (CO2)” (EIA 2020). Figure 3 shows the greenhouse effect is greatly impacted by the amount of CO2 that is released in the atmosphere and considering the data collected by EIA, the greenhouse effect could be reduced significantly is we used solar panels as our energy source.

When thinking about whether or not to make the switch from burning gases and fossil fuels to solar panels, the cost difference has to be determined.

The cost of burning gases/fossil fuels. Currently, we gain our energy through the burning of gases and fossil fuels. Across the United States of America, the average amount people have to pay for their electricity is 1,320 dollars per year. However, that is only the average amount across the United States and only via household. Many people gain electricity through different ways, not just at their house. In Hawaii, people have to pay close to 3,600 dollars per year for their electricity (Jiang 2011).

The cost of using solar panels. A couple in Charlotte, North Carolina decided to make the switch from the regular source of electricity to solar panel electricity. They only spent 9,680 dollars to have their house equipped with solar panels. Although it is somewhat pricey to install the solar panels, within 25 years, the couple is expected to save over 38,000 dollars. The average household, like this couple, will recoup the money they spent to install the solar panels in about seven years (Esswein 2019).

Conclusion

 

Solar panels make energy through the use of sunlight, and the energy can be converted to electricity for people to use. One of the main concerns of solar panels is how well they will work in different weather conditions. As of 2016, scientists created an all-weather solar panel that worked on a stormy day, but it did not produce the greatest amount of energy. However, over the years, scientists could have developed a stronger solar panel to work on stormy days. Other than this, on average, solar panels convert approximately 22.5 percent of sunlight into electricity. There are some more efficient power panels that can convert more energy than the average.

Currently, we gain our electricity through burning gases and other non-renewable resources which release gases that get trapped in the atmosphere. Solar panels do not emit gases into the atmosphere like our current sources of electricity do. It can be inferred that solar panels were to be are only source for electricity, there would be a decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By decreasing greenhouse gases, we could decrease global warming. Also, solar panels run on sunlight. Sunlight is a renewable energy, which means solar panels can be used for a very long time. There are many benefits to solar panels, but they can get pricey. Even though this change could be costly, solar panels will save money in the long run and prove to be the best option. Solar panels have more benefits for our society and our world than the current way we gain energy. By making the switch, the government could gain money over time, would not have to worry about climate change, and not worry about running out of non-renewable resources.

Recommendations

If you are considering making the switch to solar panels from the current way we gain energy, you should consider these recommendations:

  •  Solar panels have a harder time functioning on stormy days, but they still gain energy.
  •  Solar panels and their technology have been getting better over the years, so purchase the latest one for the best results.
  •  Solar panels are considered a renewable energy source, meaning they will last longer.
  •  The current way we gain electricity is part of the reason we experience global, so help the environment and use solar panels as your energy source.
  •  Solar panels are pricey in the short run but you can save money in the long run.

References

  1. Bajpaye, Amit. “New Solar Cells Designed to Harness Energy from Raindrops.” Cleanleap, Cleanleap, 14 Dec. 2018, cleanleap.com/new-solar-cells-designed-harness-energy-raindrops.
  2. Botkin-Kowacki, Eva. “Bring on the Rain? How All-Weather Solar Panels Work.” Christian Science Monitor, 11 Apr. 2016, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=114460305&site=ehost-live.
  3. Clean Energy Ideas. “What Are Solar Panels Used For?” Clean Energy Ideas, Clean Energy Ideas, 12 Apr. 2019, www.clean-energy-ideas.com/solar/solar-panels/what-are-solar-panels-used-for/.
  4. EIA. “How Much Carbon Dioxide Is Produced per Kilowatthour of U.S. Electricity Generation?” U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis, EIA, 20 Feb. 2020, www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=74&t=11.
  5. Esswein, Patricia Mertz. “Solar Heats Up.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, vol. 73, no. 8, Aug. 2019, pp. 68–71. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=137216048&site=ehost-live.
  6. Jiang, Jess. “The Price Of Electricity In Your State.” NPR, NPR, 28 Oct. 2011, www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/10/27/141766341/the-price-of-electricity-in-your-state.
  7. “Power Profiler.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 29 Jan. 2020, www.epa.gov/energy/power-profiler#/.
  8. Sebbagh, Toufik, et al. “An Experimental Validation of the Effect of Partial Shade on the I-V Characteristic of PV Panel.” International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, vol. 96, no. 9–12, June 2018, pp. 4165–4172. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s00170-018-1858-4.
  9. “The Causes of Climate Change.” Edited by Holly Shaftel et al., NASA, NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 20 Feb. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/causes/.
  10. TutorBin. “Greenhouse Effect: Advantages and Disadvantages.” Medium, Medium, 23 Sept. 2019, medium.com/@tutorbin/greenhouse-effect-advantages-and-disadvantages-4d4f113ec61d.
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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/u-s-environmental-protection-agency-headquarters-essay

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