Solar energy may have an impact on the climateNovember 4, 2015
Study suggests that solar energy could have a role to play in climate change
Solar energy has been growing in popularity in the United States, as well as in other countries, but large-scale solar power systems may actually be contributing to climate change to some degree. These energy systems have been praised for their environmentally friendly nature, helping offset the amount of carbon emissions that are being produced throughout the world. A new study from the National Center of Atmospheric Research, however, suggests that these energy systems may have some impact on the climate.
Simulations highlight the various scenarios in which solar power could affect the climate
The study works off the assumption that global carbon emissions will decline after 2020, with renewable energy becoming a more prominent source of power. The study introduced three simulations, the first of which involves the installation of solar energy systems across the world’s deserts and urban areas. The second simulation assumes that the world would continue consuming large quantities of electrical power through the use of air conditioning and other such appliances. Researchers believe that the study’s last simulation is the most “realistic,” involving the modest installation of solar arrays without a significant increase or decrease in the amount of energy that is consumed throughout the world.
Installation of solar arrays has a cooling effect for the world
The study found that solar energy produced in every simulation would be enough to satisfy global demand for electrical power by 2100. The climatic effects of this form of clean energy, however, may be significant. The study shows that solar panels change the way sunlight is reflected and absorbed by the planet. The solar radiation that these energy systems collect is not being absorbed by the earth, with the study suggesting that this could lead to a regional cooling effect, impacting the places where solar arrays have been installed.
Urban areas may not see significant cooling associated with the installation of solar panels
In urban areas, the effects of solar energy systems will be somewhat different. In these areas, the study found that there would be a very modest degree of cooling concerning the installation of solar energy systems. This is largely due to the fact that human energy consumption is associated with a significant amount of heat being released. This would combat the cooling effect that solar arrays have.