Environmental Energy and Easelly
Environmental infographics have always been very near and dear to us at Easelly. The topic fits the idea of infographic creation very neatly. It’s a complicated issue, but with environmental infographics we can display complicated issues and data in an easy to digest format using visual learning!
Whilst we have no shortage of Environmental Infographics Templates already in our gallery for you to use and enjoy, this blog will focus a little more heavily on something a bit more specific.
If you’re interested in environmental energy research you’ll know that solar energy has been making huge strides. Savvy investors among you will even have noticed that many financial magazines and papers have been publishing articles about solar energy stocks in recent months. If you’re one of our slightly older readers you might remember some of the early, widespread commercial innovations of the solar energy movement. How did this energy source go from a relatively small scale and unrealistic replacement for gas and coal, to the best hope we have for green energy.
Let’s explore this with the use of some handy infographics! Don’t forget our template gallery for templates and examples of environmental infographics.
Solar Energy Potential
Before we go on to look into the history of solar energy we should take a look at the potential. After all, if gas, oil and coal work so well for us as is, why should we bother with renewables? And if renewable is truly better, why focus on solar energy infographics? After all there are many forms of reliable, safe and clean energy forms out there.
Obviously ignoring this is not an option. Our planet will need to learn how to carefully use each one in order to ensure our survival into the coming generations. However other blogs will cover this. If you’d like to see some of our environmental infographics regarding these energy forms here’s an example.
However we are here to talk about the potential and benefits of Solar Energy. Let’s start with some raw figures.
The earth receives around 174 petawatts of incoming solar insolation every year The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year!
In 2010 we used around 539 exajoules of energy as a species. The number is staggering and by now you’re probably thinking, why haven’t we focussed solely on trying to harness all of that energy for ourselves? Think of all the things we could accomplish as a species if we had that much energy at our disposal. Your power bills would be a thing of the past and we would be able to completely cut out fossil fuels which is no bad thing!
The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so unfathomably enormous. It’s about twice as much energy coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium produces combined.
Let’s not get carried away though there are obviously some considerations to take into account. Whilst those numbers are correct we can’t harness all of those factors for several reasons.
Solar Energy Limitations
Let’s start right off with some honesty. We cannot harvest all of that energy. As great as it would be it just isn’t realistic. Here are some considerations we need to keep in mind.
First off: space. That isn’t the interstellar kind. That is the amount of space on the planet we have to harness this energy source. Obviously this will be subject to change as and when our technological capabilities improve. At the moment though, there are fairly serious limits on the amount of solar panels we can produce and where we can put them.
Solar panels are expensive to produce. They require large tracts of space where they will be in near constant sunlight and they need regular maintenance. There are many locations where we simply can’t put large solar farms. The rainforests for example. It would remove from the eco credentials of Solar Energy if we decimate the lungs of the world for solar!
Another geographical factor to consider is where we live. Many of the ideal locations for solar farms are currently covered in residential areas. Whilst we can’t knock down houses, shops and businesses to put up masses of solar panels. However there are obvious answers to this particular problem. Solar panels on roofs may be expensive but there are many benefits for the owners of those buildings. As our technologically advances it becomes cheaper and easier to pick this option.
Another key consideration to keep in mind is the weather. There’s no escaping that solar is less effective in cloudy conditions. This is obviously less of a problem in areas with more sunshine, but cloudy weather is more consistent elsewhere! All that rain and cloud is going to cause some issues! Of course, this is easily offset by energy from other sources but it’s important to be realistic!
Lastly it’s a bit of a strange one. But it’s important to remember that there is still some small degree of pollution associated with Solar. Obviously it isn’t in any way comparable to the pollution caused by fossil fuels but it cannot be ignored.
Most pollution in solar energy comes from the manufacturing process of solar panels. It’s a complicated process and there are also some hazardous and toxic materials involved in the process. The installation, transportation and gathering of materials related to solar panels is all a source of pollution. The difference here is the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Even so, knowing about the pollution and therefore being able to act on it is important.
Benefits of Solar Energy
So we’ve discussed both the potential, the limitations and the negatives of Solar Energy. It’s about time we focus on the benefits. Yes there are huge amounts of Solar Energy reaching the planet and if we could harvest said energy our energy worries would be over! But are there any other benefits? Too right there are!
Reduces Air Pollution
The use of fossil fuels creates a lot of pollutants. Pollutants lead to poor air quality and smog. Anyone who’s made a trip to Los Angeles, New York, Beijing or many other major cities in the industrialised world will know all about smog and air pollutants. Not only is it unsightly and foul smelling, it’s also incredibly dangerous and has been linked to rises in asthma and lung problems in countries all over the world.
Dirty air is bad for our environment, it’s an eyesore and it has a provable effect on our health. Solar panels produce clean energy that doesn’t contribute to the ongoing issue of air pollution.
Reduce Water Usage
Chances are if you aren’t using fossil fuels, your energy source is guzzling through a lot of clean water. Hydropower and Nuclear energy for example may be renewable, but they go through immense quantities of clean water in order to be viable.
It might seem a little dystopian and alien to be thinking about water this way, but safe, clean water is a resource and it needs to be managed. It’s vital to our survival and could be a real issue for the future if we aren’t careful. Therefore an energy source being renewable probably isn’t enough on its own.
Solar energy has the benefit of both being clean as an energy source but it also doesn’t use up any clean water. It might seem small but this is a benefit which will become more and more important going forward.
Helps fight Climate Change
So we’ve definitely saved the best until last. Our continual use of fossil fuels is having a catastrophic effect on our planet and it’s about time that we put a stop to it.
As we dump more and more pollutants and CO2 into the air it becomes more and more difficult for our planet to regulate and clean the air. As carbon in the atmosphere increases the planet retains more and more heat from the sun. If we don’t want to be slowly cooked or choked alive by our own planet we need to do something, and quickly.
There is a general consensus among scientists that we need to quickly find new means of producing clean, renewable energy responsibly. As has been stated above Solar has incredible potential and if we can find a way to fully utilise it, it could be our golden ticket!
Why is Solar the Future?
We’ve already clarified that the sun is a source of immense amounts of clean, renewable energy, the benefits and the negatives. However there’s more to it than all of that. Why is solar energy the future? Other environmental energy sources have pros and cons but why focus specifically on solar energy? What state is Solar Energy in at the moment. Well our environmental infographics should clear all this up but here are 3 reasons to consider solar going forward:
1. Solar is an investment
Solar energy is cheaper than ever to utilise thanks to advances in technology. Money wise installing solar panels is a great move especially for those of us living in sunny areas! Not only does it reduce your bills and utilities, but in many cases it can add long term value to your properties!
On a major scale, countrywide investment into solar energy isn’t just environmentally responsible, it’s also economically sensible.
2. Solar is accessible
Solar can be used by anyone, anywhere. It’s an incredibly versatile energy source and anyone at any level can get involved. Solar panels can be installed in most houses and businesses and are cheaper than ever to do. It isn’t just sunny countries that can see a benefit from solar panels.
It’s a much better, and cheaper option than trying to set up a wind turbine or hydroelectric dam in your backyard. Solar panels are inexpensive, versatile and accessible.
3. Solar is fun!
It might seem silly but there are some really fun facts about solar energy. Did you know for example that in 2016 the first ever solar powered plane flew around the world? Also on the cards, China plans to put a solar farm in space by 2050? Solar is the energy source of the future and it’s about time we take notice! It’s the stuff of science fiction and it’s really exciting to see what ends up happening!
If you’ve enjoyed this information then you should hop on the template gallery and make something for yourself! We’ve got loads of free renewable energy infographics and we love seeing what you guys come up with.
Here are some great examples we’ve been working with!
Environmental Infographics Templates:
Recycling infographics can be a great reminder for the office, home or classroom!
The power of the sun is a constant source of amazement! If you’d like to make up one of these infographics for yourself here’s a great start!