April 18, 2018

What Would Happen if the Whole World Went Solar?

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As far as the eye can see, every single roof is lined with sleek photovoltaic modules. The silent hum of clean energy is all around, and people are a lot happier for it. In fact, shortly after the UK went solar, the nation jumped seven places up on the global happiness scale. They’re paying less for their energy and they’re earning some money back every month, all while doing their bit for the environment.

What a world that would be, right? The whole country making solar energy their primary source? It’s the stuff of dreams though, because while the UK hit an all-time high of 1 million homes using solar, we’re still a long way off.

But we can dream. This blog post looks at all possible outcomes and asks: “What would happen if the world switched to solar?” Here goes.

But before we begin…

You should know that this isn’t just idle daydreaming (for the most part, anyway). It’s backed up by science: in 2016 a group of environmental scientists carried out an “idealized large-scale application of renewable energy”, with solar as its main focus. In layman’s terms, they used computerised climate models to see what would change.

The researchers believed that solar panels would be installed in all major desert regions of the world, where sunlight would be strongest, and in urban areas, where the demand is greatest.

Without further ado, this is what they found.

Solar radiation would decrease by 19% in desert areas

This is the first change we would see.

In an area covered by solar panels, less solar radiation would be absorbed by the earth because it would be absorbed by the panels. Then it would be turned into electricity. As a result, and again in layman’s terms, our environment would almost immediately cool.

The average temperature would decrease by 2°C

On a global scale, the difference would be minute. Regionally, though, these shifts in temperature would be far clearer to see. In desert regions across the world, the temperature would drop by a whole 2°C.

With widespread panels absorbing the solar radiation that would otherwise have been absorbed into the ground (which contributes to Earth’s high temperatures), we’d experience global cooling.

Precipitation could decrease by 20% – a little less rain and clearer skies!

Like all of these hypothetical changes, the most striking developments would occur in our deserts. Desert precipitation – the creation of water vapour in the air – would potentially decrease by 20%. This would lead to less rain, snow, sleet, and hail in the areas affected.

Increased solar coverage would also lead to reduced cloud cover. Solar panels would almost literally clear the skies! While it might get a bit colder, weather would generally stabilise and we would experience less ‘extreme’ weather.

Let’s talk through your options

There you have it! We’d live in a far milder climate and, with solar as our renewable energy champion, we’d be a step closer to beating global warming. Who knows what else we could achieve.

If you want to be part of the movement, please get in touch. You can call our offices on 0800 112 3110, or fill in an enquiry form here. Our team would love to talk you through your options.