How Solar Energy can help stop Climate change?

Climate change is real and scary. From how everything is going right now it seems like it is not possible to avoid a climate crisis. According to the Paris agreement in 2015, The agreement aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, while pursuing the means to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.

The agreement includes commitments from all major emitting countries to cut their climate pollution and to strengthen those commitments over time. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the first part of its sixth assessment report (AR6) which was released recently, the report pulls together the findings from more than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies.

The authors conclude that it is “unequivocal” that humans have warmed the planet, causing “widespread and rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice, and land surface. They warn that the present state of many parts of the climate system is “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.



The production of solar energy is one way to mitigate global warming and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The benefits of using solar energy have been campaigned repeatedly for a long time, and with a purpose. Utilizing it to generate power can greatly reduce the emissions of CO2 by decreasing the demand for fossil fuels. Several studies have been done to see how Solar energy can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change and achieve carbon net neutrality in the energy sector.

Life Cycle Assessment

 

Life cycle assessment of energy systems can help in assessing the amount of CO2 upstream to the downstream process i.e., from its extraction stage till the plants decommission / disposal stage. Of different technologies. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Solar produces less life-cycle GHG emissions than conventional fossil fuel energy sources.

While there may be some GHG emissions produced during the manufacturing and recycling of the solar system, the generation of energy results in zero GHG emissions and zero environmental impact. For photovoltaic plants, the majority of Green House Gas Emissions come from the Construction of plants, manufacturing, and production of solar-grade wafers in the upstream process.

It is well known that the process of manufacturing solar grade silicon wafers from SiO2 (Silicon dioxide or more commonly known as quartz) the raw material that is needed is an energy-intensive and time-consuming process. The figure below shows a comparison between the emission of greenhouse gas in different lifecycle stages of solar energy and fossil fuels (Coal).

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from the operational process that includes mining, transporting of coal, and operating and maintaining the power plants. Whereas in the case of solar energy nearly 70% comes from extracting and manufacturing solar grade silicon while the rest comes from plant maintenance and recycling plants.



IEA’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050

Now it is known that we need to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions — as quickly, safely, and cost-effectively as possible. To do this we need a cost effect and technologically feasible model for every nook and corner of the world. International energy agency’s Net Energy by 2050 report shows that by 2050 in a net-zero emissions scenario wind and solar provide 70% of total electricity generation.


The roadmap calls for scaling solar energy rapidly this decade to 630 GW per year by 2030. By 2050, IEA sees 630 GW of solar energy added per year in the global energy mix for the world to achieve carbon net neutrality. CO2 emission which accounts for 36% of the total energy-related emissions. The figure shows that solar and wind power will together help raise the share of renewable energy sources by more than 50% by 2050. The transformation of the electricity sector is the key to achieving net-zero emissions in 2050. Electricity generation is the single largest source for energy-related


as the government provides the right necessary support and incentives, this can be achieved as many developing countries are only now starting to scale up to their renewable energy potential. With low-cost widespread policy support and rapid advancement in technology, the electricity sector will be the first to achieve net-zero emissions mainly thanks to the solar industry. Solar has officially become the cheapest form of electricity and has policy support in more than 130 countries.

In conclusion, the deployment of solar panels will play a major role in achieving net-zero emissions in the energy sector, and as it will help produce renewable energy which will help limit the warming of the climate. Achieving net-zero emissions is no easy task and it is an extremely important milestone for the future of the global energy economy. While emissions dropped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re already rising again as economies begin to reopen and recover, highlighting the urgency of low-carbon solutions — especially in the power sector, where we can already make rapid progress on renewable energy.

AFSHIN BAKHTIARI

AE Solar Senior Engineer



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