Could climate change affect solar energy?


E.ON Climate and Renewables’ Headwater Wind Farm in Madison County, Indiana is home to 125 wind turbines.

Editor’s Note: The following is part of a class project started in the class of Ball State University professor Adam Kuban, who challenged his students to find sustainability efforts in the Muncie. Several of these stories will be featured in The Star Press in November.

MUNCIE, Ind. – For years the world has been confronted with the aspect of climate change with renewable energy resources such as solar panels, wind farms and hydropower.

If current trends continue, climate change experts warn, these resources will no longer be sufficient.

An article in the journal “Nature Climate Change” warned that a “warming scenario would impact renewable energy sources and future energy systems.”

It is enough to determine how often we see a sunny day in the forecast.

In his own study, FOX59 meteorologist Bryan Wilkes has tracked the number of days covered per month in Indiana over the past two years.

“What I found was very few days were completely clear,” Wilkes said. “Each of the past 22 months except last November (2020) produced more cloud cover than normal.”

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Wilkes data revealed that the month with the least amount of sunshine over the past two years was December 2020, at 38%. August 2020 had the highest, with 68%.

“If we have more cloud cover, it would probably be the product of more rain clouds and more convection, which may be the product of global warming,” Wilkes explained.

This increase in cloud cover could be of concern for the efficiency of renewable energy resources such as solar panels, which depend on the sun to create energy.

Muyiwa Adaramola’s book “Climate Change and the Future of Sustainability: The Impact on Renewable Resources” discusses the effects that climate change will have on alternative energies.

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“Climate change will have an impact on temperature and irradiance and will therefore change the performance of photovoltaic systems,” says Adaramola in his book, which was published in 2016.

A PV, or photovoltaic, system converts sunlight into electricity. This means that if the climate continues to change and the days get cloudier, solar panels may not be as efficient as they are not receiving the amount of energy they need.

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“The technology is here to dramatically slow climate change,” said Jeffery Dukes, director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center and director of the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment. difficult to stop it completely.

Dukes explained that if climate change continues at the current rate, “we could get something like 5 degrees Fahrenheit warming by mid-century.”

According to NASA, this warming can have serious consequences for the world.

Heat waves will become more frequent, especially in the tropics. The cold seasons will also be shorter. There is a possibility of drought and water scarcity, despite increasing heavy rainfall and rising sea levels. Many ecosystems will be affected and human health could be threatened.

The Kennedy Library has installed solar panels in its parking lot.

The Kennedy Library has installed solar panels in its parking lot.

Businesses in east-central Indiana have already taken steps to do their part in slowing climate change. For example, in 2016, the Kennedy Library in Muncie installed solar panels on the carport, funded by the SUN Energy grant.

“It depends on your goals,” said Donna Catron, director of the Kennedy Library, when asked if businesses in the area should donate resources to put up their own signs.

While the library benefits from the solar panels powering its meeting room, Catron explained that they mainly use them as educational opportunities. Visitors to the library can see firsthand how to tackle climate change in their hometown, and it fosters discussion of what can be done next, both individually and globally.

Wilkes and Dukes had similar positions when it comes to the future of sustainability: Slowing climate change is a group effort.

“As a country we can go out and find all of these alternative resources, but you need collective work from around the world to be able to control this,” Wilkes said.

“And of course, we can’t do that – no individual can do it; no state can do it alone; no country can do it alone. It has to be a global effort that everyone is part of, ”said Dukes.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Experts in the Muncie region study how climate change could affect solar energy


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