Is Solar Energy Renewable or Non-Renewable?

by | Oct 14, 2019

Is solar energy renewable or non-renewable?

Like many other renewable sources, solar energy is a growing segment of the UK’s power generation mix. Using solar panels to harness the energy of the sun to produce power is a renewable energy generation method.

What is renewable energy?

A renewable energy source is any energy source that replenishes naturally on a human timescale. Non-renewable energy, on the other hand, comes from energy sources that aren’t considered renewable (like coal and oil)because they form over hundreds of thousands of years. This means that they can’t be replenished at the rate humans use them today.

Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy originates from sources that are inexhaustible, making it more sustainable.

Characteristics of renewable energy

  • Generally clean, non-polluting
  • Many sources do not emit any greenhouse gases or toxic waste
  • Reliable for the long-term.
  • Cost-effective
  • Efficient

What are the sources of renewable energy?

  • Wind
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal
  • Hydro
  • Solar

So, yes, solar energy is a source of renewable energy. As long as the sun is shining, solar energy will be around.

Solar and renewable energy in the UK

Over the last quarter, renewable energy sources provided more electricity to UK homes and businesses than fossil fuels for the first time.

In Q3 2019, renewables’ share of the electricity mix rose to 40% – the first time that electricity has surpassed fossil fuels since the UK’s first power plant opened in 1882.

With renewable energy in the UK on the rise, you may be wondering: where does this renewable energy come from? And is solar energy renewable or non-renewable?

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is clean, ‘green’ electricity sourced from sunlight, or from heat from the sun.

What makes solar energy a ‘green’ energy source?

Solar energy is both renewable and ‘green’ due to the lack of harmful environmental side effects associated with its use.

Generating energy from solar panels is a zero-emissions process that doesn’t release greenhouse gases and other particles into the atmosphere.

What about the environmental impact of manufacturing solar panels? 

Like any manufactured product, it takes resources and energy to make solar modules. This means that solar energy production does involve some environmental impact. However, the environmental impact of producing solar panels is decreasing year after year due to the introduction of better solar panel technologies and designs.

  • Solar panels are becoming much more efficient at converting sunlight into emissions-free energy
  • The environmental cost of producing panels compared to the clean energy they generate is shrinking rapidly
  • Solar panels can be recycled
  • Components within solar panels cab be repurposed

Harnessing the power of solar energy

Installing your own solar power system at your business typically means setting up a solar photovoltaic or a solar thermal system on the roof.

Solar electricity can supplement your entire or partial energy consumption. Installing solar panels is a low-maintenance and unobtrusive way to incorporate solar energy into your energy mix. Using solar power gives you the opportunity to reduce your energy bills and save money. It may also increase the value of your property.

How has renewable energy generation increased over the last few years?

In the UK, a string of new offshore windfarms built in 2019 was the major contributing factor that nudged renewables past fossil fuels.

These days, coal-fired power accounts for less than 1% of all electricity generated in the UK; this compared to fossil fuel (gas and coal) making up four-fifths of the country’s electricity fewer than 10 years ago.

How much of the UK’s energy comes from solar?

6% of the UK’s energy comes from solar panels.

The UK’s strongest source of renewable energy is wind power, which makes up 20% of the UK’s electricity. Biomass plants make up 12% of the energy system.

Read more about renewable energy generation in the UK.

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