Solar Energy and Climate Resilience

Solar energy offers many earth-friendly benefits. Its ability to support climate resilience is most notable. It helps the world cope with climate change and keeps it under control by reducing heat-trapping emissions.

Learn how solar energy boosts climate resilience and prepares us for what’s ahead.  


What is Climate Resilience?

Climate resilience is a two-pronged strategy. On one hand, it mitigates the effects of global warming. It also helps us adapt to a warmer climate and cope with unavoidable changes such as increased natural disasters and rising temperatures.

Boosting resilience requires a combination of mitigation and adaptation as follows.


Mitigation

Mitigation involves reducing pollutants that are exacerbating climate change. It requires reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. We must decrease the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming.

We can reach these goals by choosing renewable energy sources over coal and fuel. We must rely more on public transportation, electric vehicles, and other environmental community methods to reduce the oil and gas we use for transportation. Efficient energy use further supports resiliency goals.

The U.S. Department of State has suggested a goal of cutting emissions by about 50% from where they were in 2005 by 2030 to combat climate change. It’s ambitious, but green strategies can help us make it a reality. 


Adaption

While mitigation can combat climate change and reduce further damage, it cannot reverse what has already been done. Therefore, the planet must adapt to the warmer climate that exists.

Adaption means changing how we live, work, and engage in recreational activities to embrace the new normal. We must reinforce the electric grid, invest in housing structures that better prepare us for increasingly severe storms and plant trees to reduce outdoor heat.


Climate Justice is Integral to Climate Resilience
There is a third part of climate resiliency that cannot be overlooked- climate justice.

Climate justice addresses people in low-income and underserved communities who are unfairly impacted by climate change and have few resources to protect themselves. It demands justice for the disabled, people of color, the very young, and the elderly.

Possible climate justice methods include installing air conditioning in public housing, ensuring at-risk communities are familiar with disaster planning measures, and providing the elderly, disabled, and homeless with a means to stay safe if a natural disaster occurs.

These measures aid with adaptation, but mitigation strategies can also implement climate justice in climate resilience. To this end, we must create clean energy projects that aid vulnerable communities.

For example, initiatives can reduce reliance on fossil fuels in underserved communities and support wind and solar energy. Low-income areas must gain access to community solar projects, public transportation, and electric power generation. Steps towards resilience should prioritize those who are most impacted by climate change due to social injustices that have existed throughout history.


How Solar Contributes to Climate Resilience

Resilience of the Electric Grid


The country has long relied on the electric grid as a power source, but modern technology is taxing the system. The rising use of electric devices increases the risk of blackouts and service disruptions. It is extremely vulnerable in times of natural disasters.

Solar helps by reducing the need for energy. People who use solar energy do not rely heavily on the grid freeing it to generate power more efficiently. The minimized reliance will help it power through emergencies.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. currently has over 155.2 GW of cumulative capacity, enough to power over 27 million American homes and offset over 169 metric tons of carbon emissions. These statistics show how solar provides a reliable alternative to the grid and boosts climate resiliency throughout communities.


Alternative Source of Energy in Natural Disasters

Solar offers a reliable alternative if the worst occurs and the grid goes down in a natural disaster. Individuals, businesses, and emergency workers can use their solar systems to generate energy when it’s needed most.  

The sun will generate energy even in low-light conditions. Batteries can be used to store energy for nighttime use. Its reliability makes it an ideal solution when emergencies occur.

Solar generates power so homes and businesses can avoid disruptions when disasters hit. But its biggest advantage is in its ability to provide power at shelters and pop-up rescue areas.

Portable solar panels and solar generators power communication devices for teams and individuals so they can speak to loved ones and call for help. It can refrigerate food and vaccines for emergency victims. It is an ideal solution during power outages.

Solar microgrids can also provide power during emergencies. The grids are large, high-quality solar panels and batteries stored in a central location within a community to power the community. Users generally pay a flat fee for energy based on their usage.

Grids are often used in rural areas that have difficulty accessing solar. However, similar systems are set up to provide community solar in cosmopolitan communities.


Cleaner Transportation

Transportation is a prime culprit of climate change. Vehicles consume fossil fuels like gas and oil which contribute to global warming. They trap heat to increase temperatures and promote rising temperatures.

Electric vehicles are largely responsible for reducing reliance on fossil fuels. A Science Direct study reveals that EVs can reduce fossil fuel reliance by 40-60% and reduce the world’s carbon footprint by 30-50%. They produce almost no harmful gases and less sound and vibration than other vehicles to provide a more comfortable traveling experience.


Greener Industrial Processes

Much of America’s greenhouse gases come from the industrial sector. Steel and aluminum production uses considerable energy and generates high emissions levels.

Solar energy can generate heat from concentrating solar power (CSP) technology which uses mirrors to focus sunlight on a receiver to heat a fluid and produce solar energy. Solar heating and cooling (SHC) technology uses solar energy to heat water and interior environments.

Both processes can be used to create boiler fuel by generating hot water or steam which is transferred to a boiler vessel. They can also dry paint in automotive plants, cook foods, and generate heat in other industrial applications.


Commercial and Residential Sectors

Human activities are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2022, electric power was responsible for 25% of U.S. total emissions. It accounts for about 30% of America’s carbon emissions.

Heating a home with natural gas produces about 6400 pounds of carbon dioxide. However, this number increases in colder states and could be as high as 8000 pounds.

Solar can counter these emissions. Statistics show that SHC can provide about 80% of the power required for space and water heating. Solar energy can also power a home’s lighting and cooling systems.


Off the Grid Solutions

Solar off-the-grid solutions are ideal for underserved communities in and outside of the United States that are prone to natural disasters. Examples Include:


Solar Water Pumps

Solar water pumps use photovoltaic energy to convert sunlight to energy to move water. They are typically installed in areas with a lot of sun, transforming a once harmful resource into a driving force for promoting change. The pumps provide access to groundwater which can be used for drinking and field irrigation to boost agriculture in communities.

Alternatives to Diesel and Kerosene Generators

Diesel and kerosene generators are often used in underserved countries that do not have access to electricity. They provide reliable power in the face of unpredictable grids. However, their fossil fuels can harm the environment.

Solar generators and other types of green installations serve as an alternative to diesel and kerosene generators. Although they are often used on an individual rather than an industrial scale, they have been impactful in mitigating climate change. They have reduced the need for over 190 metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of taking over 51 coal-fired plants offline for a year.


Solar Energy Jobs

The solar energy sector is growing throughout the world providing more job opportunities. While anyone can benefit from job growth, several initiatives are making training more accessible to underserved communities vulnerable to climate threats. Increased employment could bring wealth to these communities and reduce some of the impact of climate injustice.


Solar America is Doing its part to Promote Climate Resiliency

Solar can help the world reach its resiliency goals. Increased adaption can mitigate climate change and help us adapt to our new reality. However, accessibility could interfere with these goals.

Solar America is doing its part by making solar more accessible. Sign up for our system and a rep will call you within minutes to connect you with installers in your area. Our competitive system means providers will give you the lowest prices. We will help you find a contractor that meets your solar needs.

Submit your information and get started on your solar journey today.

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison