Coal energy involves the burning of coal, a fossil fuel, to create energy. While all fossil fuels release carbon monoxide and other harmful chemicals into the environment, coal is considered to be significantly dirtier than other fossil fuels. In areas where coal makes up a significant portion of the energy produced for electricity, as it does in some sections of China and India, residents often complain about outrageously high levels of pollution. Finding a solution to the coal problem is difficult and one of the proposed solutions is solar power. Can solar power solve the coal problem however?
Using Solar Power
Solar power has been around for a significant number of years but only recently has grown in efficiency to the extent where it is becoming a viable alternative to coal. Solar power converts energy into the sun into electricity by absorbing solar power and storing it in fuel cells. This is beneficial in that solar power is considered a renewable source of power and the production of it does not release the same pollutants that coal does. Solar power is then transmitted from these fuel cells along power lines to the end users of the energy derived from solar power.
Limitations and Challenges of Solar Power
While solar power has improved significantly over the years many do not consider it to currently be a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Solar power improvements have mostly centered on the efficiency of solar fuel cell storage. This has improved over time and made for a more efficient use of solar energy. However, as solar energy is stored in fuel cells some energy is lost. In addition, as solar energy is transmitted along power lines there are significant losses of solar power as well. Scientists are attempting to improve the transmission of solar power to reduce the amounts of energy wasted in the process, but the technology is not considered to be sufficiently advanced to replace coal and other fossil fuels as this point.
Further, many believe that given the energy needs of the world today the real estate needed to power the world is not available to produce the energy needed through solar power alone. Further, many of the population dense areas do not have the real estate available to dedicate to solar power generation and the need to transmit energy from solar power cells to population dense areas is inefficient and costly.
Conclusion and Hopes for the Future
While solar power technologies are not currently sufficient to replace coal and other fossil fuels, improvements in solar power will likely yield benefits in years to come. Further, coal is considered to be a particularly wasteful form of energy and a harmful pollutant. While solar power may not replace fossil fuels in total, it can reduce the usage of coal significantly thus solving a portion of the coal problem. Solar power is likely to be just one component of a power grid that will contain several different forms of alternative energy including wind and hydro power and thus can reduce the need to rely on coal and other harmful fossil fuels over time.
About The Author :
Today’s guest post was provided by Eduardo Dieguez, professional writer for Bob Heinmiller Solar. An avid computer enthusiast, Eduardo spends countless hours tinkering with electronics both new and old.