Energy is a resource that humanity has always needed, and before the Industrial Revolution, most energy came from human or animal labor. Oxen and horses plowed the fields, men built tools, women were textile experts, and horses even served as transport and war mounts as well. All of this changed, and gender norms for some types of labor vanished, when new energy forms arrived and modified society on a great scale. Now, anyone can drive a car, run a factory, and produce goods. In the 1800s, steam power was dominant, and fossil fuels such as coal and oil became standard power sources. One may think back on John D. Rockefeller’s enormous Standard Oil Company, for example. Then electricity arrived, pioneered by Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, and the 20th century introduced nuclear power and the first “clean energy” sources such as wind farms and solar panels. Now, in the 21st century, fossil fuels still persist but clean energy such as solar energy systems and residential solar energy are making for strong competition.

On Solar

What is there to know about solar panel fitting and using the sun as a power source? One distinct factor of solar arrays or residential solar energy is that such energy produces no by-products whatsoever, no sludge or airborne emissions at all. This contrasts with fossil fuels, which are known for emitting greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. The fossil fuel industry, such as power plants, are coming under heavy scrutiny and criticism for this. What is more, residential solar energy and large solar arrays are tapping into a power source that is arguably the largest of all: the sun. Coal seams and oil wells may run dry eventually, but the sun exists on an astronomical scale. It will shine for another five billion years, and the entire time, it is producing an immense amount of energy nonstop. In fact, more solar energy flows around the Earth each day than is used in all of industrial civilization. Calculations show that the Earth’s share of solar energy could power all of human society many times over, and in effect, this energy source is limitless. There’s no way to run the sun dry, and all of this energy is waiting to be used.

The Panels

Residential solar energy and larger solar panel arrays are a developing technology, and constant innovations are making these panels more affordable and efficient than before. This can make them more economically competitive on the markets, spurring their growth. In particular, over the last 15 years this clean energy source has grown 20% each year, and this is due to decreasing prices and growing efficiency rates. Today, the United States is home to 1.3 million solar installations from coast to coast, and they add up to a total capacity of 40 gigawatts. How much power is that? The Solar Energy Association has estimated that one megawatt may power some 164 homes, so 40 gigawatts is sufficient to power just over 6.5 million homes, solar energy on an industrial scale. In fact, some European nations such as Ireland and Germany have pledged to get most or even all of their power from solar within the coming decades, phasing out fossil fuels entirely. The United States lags behind, but all the same, solar energy has found its place in the States.

Where are American solar panels and residential solar energy found? Homes in sunny areas as California and Florida and Texas make generous use of these panels, since the ample sunlight is directly related to how much power these panels may generate. Deserts such as in Texas and Nevada have very little cloud cover, making them ideal for this work. And not only are residential solar energy panels an option, but panels are built in the wilderness as industrial-scale arrays. Hundreds or even thousands of panels may be working together in a single array in the Texas or Arizona desert, gathering enough power to supply an entire city block or town at once. In sunny areas, these solar panel arrays can serve as an emission-free successor to power plants, and residential solar energy is efficient, too. A home may generate a surplus of power and end it to the local power plant.

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