By the beginning of 2021, as established by the European Parliament, every newly constructed building will have to meet low energy consumption standards, and these should be powered by renewable sources of energy. These directives will be anticipated by the public authorities, whose buildings will switch to clean energy sources from 2018.
The guidelines will affect every Member State, included metropolitan and highly densely populated areas. Therefore, it is clear that clean energies’ accessibility will greatly influence the selection of the source of energy. If compared to other clean sources of energy, Sun power and its conversion to energy through the use of photovoltaic panels, may result as the most easily available choice for many European cities.
Why Is There Skepticism About Solar Panels?
Being slightly more expensive than its counterparts, part of the skepticism that surrounds solar power performances revolves around the costs/energy output ratio. Research is focusing on increasing the effectiveness of solar panels, both in terms of innovation and their strategic use.
As the University of Lund has shown, implementing solar energy criteria in urban planning parameters can significantly increase photovoltaic equipment’s potential up to the double of the current standards. Moreover, if strategically installed on building’s facades and roofs, solar panels can help limiting human impact on the environment and consequently avoid landscape defacement.
Thus, a clever use of solar panels is the first step to use them at their best: cities should begin accounting for sun exposure in urban development planning in order to obtain the greatest performance from photovoltaic energy.
The actual and usable amount of solar energy hitting the planet is also source of debate: nights, shadows and bad weather conditions are natural limits that threaten solar power production. Technologies to overcome these obstacles, such as storage solutions, are being developed and will guarantee power needs when sunlight should not prove sufficient.
The estimated amount of solar energy that Europe might potentially use has been the focus of a study commissioned from the European Commission to the Institute for Environment and Sustainability. The results proved that, with some exceptions and regional peculiarities, most of the European territories are suitable for an efficient use of solar panels.
Europe can -and should- lead the solar energy sector, in order to create a cleaner and more sustainable environment in the region, and to serve as a bright example to the entire planet.