Is Solar Energy a Fossil Fuel? (Let’s find out!)

Many people would argue that the difference between solar and fossil fuel is as clear as day and night. Although fossil fuel is convenient and cheaper, it has been vilified for its damage to the environment and contribution to global warming. 

On the other hand, proponents of green energy and sustainability have praised solar energy as being environmentally friendly.

So, is solar energy a fossil Fuel? Solar energy does not emit harmful pollutants into the atmosphere and is considered a clean energy source. Whereas fossil fuels typically include coal, bitumens, petroleum, natural gas, tar sands, oil shales, and heavy oils, which all contain carbon and were formed due to geologic. 

But is there a relationship between fossil fuels and solar energy? You may be surprised that these two energy sources are related. However, their effect on the environment differs greatly. 

If you are interested in discovering the differences between Solar Energy And Fossil Fuels, I wrote an article I encourage you to read.

Is Solar Energy a Fossil Fuel
Is Solar Energy a Fossil Fuel? (Let’s find out!) –

Where Does Fossil Fuel Energy Come From?

Fossil fuel comes from animal and plant deposits and rocks deep in the soil (Source: National Geographic). We can also get fossil fuel by burning wood to generate energy for cooking or warming our bodies.

But where do trees get this energy? The answer lies in how they make food through a process called photosynthesis. This process involves plants absorbing sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make carbohydrates (energy) and release oxygen into the air. 

When plants die, the energy captured from the sun is stored in fossil fuel deposits in the ground. Therefore, all energy in gas, oil, and coal can be said to come from the sun. 

Just like we burn wood to release the energy they captured from the sun through photosynthesis, when we burn fossil fuels, we release the energy that dead plants captured from the sun thousands of years ago. 

Plants deposited this energy in a natural solar power bank millions of years ago. When fossil fuels are extracted, we use the energy in that natural solar power bank. 

Some scientists even argue that coal-burning power plants, gasoline-burning cars, and homes using natural gas are, in a sense, powered by solar. 

Problem With Fossil Fuels

Although there is a direct link between fossil fuels and solar energy, the exploration of fossil fuels to generate energy is plagued by many drawbacks. Consider some concerns:

1- Non-Renewable Source Of Energy

Fossil fuels form over millions of years, and since they are non-renewable within our life span, we risk depleting the power bank. Humans are withdrawing gas, coal, and oil from this solar power bank without making significant deposits. 

Fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas, are non-renewable source of energy.

With over-extraction taking place across the globe, the present generation could consume all deposits until there is none left for the generation to come. 

2- Problems In The Environment 

Plants make energy using sunlight and carbon dioxide. And when they die, carbon dioxide is also deposited in the fossils. As we burn fossil fuels, the stored carbon dioxide is also released into the air, thus adding to the greenhouse gases that deplete the ozone layer

The huge release of carbon dioxide from industries and transport sectors overwhelms the natural cycles. Climate change and global warming result from burning fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

What Are The Differences Between Solar Energy And Fossil Fuels?

Although fossil fuels get energy from the sun, they are not the same as renewable solar energy. Here are some notable differences. 

Differences Solar energyFossil fuel
Renewability Renewable source of energyNon-renewable sources of energy
Environmental Friendliness Environmentally friendlyHarmful to the environment
Costs High initial costsRelatively cheaper
Storage Storage problemEasy to store
Applications Diverse applicationSpecific application
Dependencies On Weather It depends on the weather conditions.Does not rely on weather conditions
Table Displays The Differences Between Solar Energy And Fossil Fuels –

While solar energy and fossil fuels are related to the sun, one is modern while the other is archaic. Technology is pointing toward solar energy replacing fossil fuels to save the planet’s future. 

Solar Energy Costs Vs. Fossil Fuels Costs

Another difference between solar energy and fossil fuels is their associated costs. Fossil fuels have been flaunted as the most co-effective solution to energy for many years. 

Nevertheless, technological advancements have changed the tide. It has significantly reduced the cost of renewable energy over the last decade, thus fronting wind and solar energy as potent alternatives to fossil fuels. 

Many homeowners agree that going solar saves money long-term, even though the initial costs could scare some people. According to Consumer Affairs, it costs consumers between 5 and 7 cents per kw/h for electricity from fossil fuel, while solar energy costs between 3 and 6 cents. 

Cost reduction for solar energy seems to be trending, and we expect the price to fall even further in the future. 

Furthermore, installing solar energy can put you in line for tax benefits and holidays. Most governments encourage their citizens to adopt green energy and protect the environment. Installing solar systems is one way to go green, and the government will likely reward you, thus reducing the cost of solar energy. 

Bloomberg even reported that technology has made constructing and running new big solar and wind plants cheaper than running an existing gas or coal-fired power plant. 

How Solar Energy Can Mitigate The Effects Of Fossil Fuel

Fossil fuels threaten human existence. The environmental effects have contributed to debilitating diseases and continue affecting the quality of life. Since solar energy does not burn fossil fuels, it does not push greenhouse gases into the environment. This means that humans can reduce their carbon footprint by adopting solar systems

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published a study showing that 35% adoption of wind and solar power would reduce carbon emissions by 25-45% and fuel costs by 40%. This outcome can be achieved by removing 22-36 million cars from the road. 

Engineers and experts are inventing new and efficient ways to harness solar energy, which means humanity is staring at an unlimited energy supply. 

Solar energy also reduces over-dependency on fossil fuels. Although fossil fuels have short-term cost-efficiency and job creation benefits, their over-dependency can negatively impact a country’s sustainability goals. 

Solar power reduces a country’s reliance on the grid. As homes adopt solar energy, they reduce their carbon footprint and pressure on the grid during peak hours. 

However, one change with solar energy is where to store it. So far, we only have solar storage batteries, but they require huge spaces to install. Experts are looking for ways to make storage easy and sustainable.

Proper storage allows you to consume solar energy even after sunset, during outages, or in bad weather. Ensure your batteries have enough storage capacity to enhance the efficiency of the solar systems. 

Why Are People Reluctant To Go Solar?

Despite the clear benefits of solar energy, you may wonder why many people are not making the switch. Well, the answer could be more complicated. However, one simple explanation is the high upfront cost of installing solar systems. Although technological advancements have reduced the cost of solar energy, there are still significant upfront costs. 

Furthermore, it appears cheaper and more convenient sourcing fossil fuels in the short run than solar. And you know humans are not the patient to wait for long-term benefits. 

Nevertheless, most governments are offering financial incentives, financing options, and tax credits, thus making solar panel installation far cheaper than it was years ago. 

Many people also struggle to adopt solar energy because the global society has been accustomed to fossil fuels for many years. Fossil fuels have dominated the market as the primary energy source, powering and controlling the global economy. 

Making the shift is like going against the tide. The forces and investments in fossil fuels far outweigh solar investments. Every day, we are bombarded with promotions and advertisements encouraging fossil fuels. 

Interestingly, investing in green energy is left to governments and green-minded corporations. But humans can shift to more balanced, diverse, and sustainable energy sources if we embrace an open mind to changing technologies and new developments. 

When people realize that renewable energy costs less, does not harm the environment, and is efficient, they may be swayed to switch to a greener and brighter future progressively

Instead of leaving the push for green energy to governments and corporations, everyone should be involved in this debate. Creating awareness is the first step to having a sober conversation about the planet’s future and how energy consumption contributes to this future. 

Does Solar Power Come From Fossil Fuels?

Solar energy offers tremendous benefits, including clean and renewable energy. But creating the various solar energy components, including solar panels, requires fossil fuels (typically petroleum) for both power and the elements themselves.

So, can solar panels be made without petroleum? Theoretically, solar panels can be made using only renewable energy provided by other solar panels, wind turbines, and hydropower. And soon, we could have so much solar and wind-sourced electricity that very little or no fossil fuels will be required to run the industries necessary for manufacturing solar panels.

Final Thoughts

Fossil fuels from plants and animals that died millions of years ago are directly linked to solar energy. Plants absorb solar energy and carbon dioxide to make carbohydrates, which is energy. When we burn fossil fuel, we are burning the stored energy. 

However, we also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, devastatingly affecting the environment and human health. One major difference between solar energy and fossil fuel is their environmental effect. 


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