Some of the advantages of solar energy are common to many other renewable energy sources. The most important of these is the ability to protect our planet from climate change: capturing and then harnessing the sun's rays enables us to reduce our use of fossil fuels without producing greenhouse gases and propel us to be self-sufficient in energy.
1. An energy source that is both renewable and inexhaustible by definition
It is true that the yellow dwarf that gives our solar system its name won’t live forever. In fact, in four or five billion years’ time, it will come to the end of its main sequence and become unstable. In the meantime, however, and on a time scale that is more relevant to us, the sun remains an unchangeable and inexhaustible source of energy: day after day, year after year, it is and will always be there, always exactly the same.
In addition to being a fixed presence, the solar energy that reaches Earth is also abundant. If Earth were a flat disc angled towards the sun, it would receive 1,377 watts of solar power per square meter. The presence of our atmosphere, bad weather conditions and the Earth’s round shape lower this figure by almost ten times in the middle latitudes. That said, we would still only need to capture 6% of our solar energy to cover all of humanity’s energy needs.
2. Everywhere gets sunlight
It might seem trivial, but the fact that every single area of the Earth gets sunlight to a greater or lesser extent offers a twofold advantage. First and foremost, sunlight is an energy source that can be used anywhere on the planet and even gets to places with no infrastructure or connections: hence in isolated, rural areas, places that are remote or difficult to get to, the sun is always a good option.
Following on from the above, solar energy can also be used on a hyperlocal scale, including by individuals for their own consumption. Just take a look at solar panels installed on roofs. If you reflect on that point, it is clear that this isn’t the case with many other renewables or they simply are not as simple to implement.
3. It’s very well suited to batteries and the electricity grid
Photovoltaics produces energy mainly in the middle part of the day, but thanks to larger, more efficient and reliable storage systems, we’re better able to manage the discrepancy between energy demand and what the sun provides naturally. Although there may be differences from country to country, generally speaking, solar energy, particularly where photovoltaic technology is used to generate it, can be transferred directly to the electricity grid. This makes things like energy communities possible and allows private individuals and businesses to send the excess energy they produce to the market, guaranteeing them not only savings but also a source of income.