We all use energy in our lives, and not just for sustaining our human biology in waking, walking and wondering. To look at this website requires electrical energy. The energy to make the device you’re reading on had to come from somewhere. If you own a vehicle, you probably have to charge it or fill it with gas to get around.
There are many kinds of energy, and humanity has become pretty good at getting and converting energy from a lot of different sources. We’ve also started using more of it over time.
This would require a heroic effort, and amounts to a new 1 GW power plant starting and maintaining operation every day.
This energy has to come from the different sources mentioned above. Some of them are non-renewable, meaning they don’t regenerate faster than we use them. The graph below shows change in how the electricity we used was generated in 2018.
A many-pronged approach is needed to try and meet the energy demands of tomorrow. As we start to deplete our fossil fuel reserves, we can see that we’ll need much more energy from renewable sources of hydro, wind and solar photovoltaics (solar energy).
There’s another big reason we want to move away from our dependence on fossil fuels, though.
“… atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution” Image source: NASA: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/
IPCC 2018 report on p.13, showing the impacts and risks of global warming for different systems. Image Source:https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf
Solar energy is anticipated to play a crucial role, not only in meeting the world’s energy needs, but also in minimizing climate change. Breakthroughs are making solar photovoltaics more and more efficient. They’re the fastest growing resource for power generation (the worldwide photovoltaic electricity in 2014 was 40x that of 2006) . They also show the highest power density among all the renewable energy options. Add to this the fact that they don’t produce any pollution during their operation, have low maintenance costs, and run off of our warm G2V type star that will shine for billions of years to come, photovoltaics emerge as an essential part of our energy future.