Is Solar Energy Renewable And Non Conventional?

Is solar energy renewable and non conventional?

Solar energy refers to the harnessing of energy from the sun, which is converted to electricity by technologies like photovoltaics panels or concentrated solar plants. The sun produces a tremendous amount of energy and solar power allows us to capture that energy to generate electricity cleanly and sustainably, without emitting any greenhouse gases. Interest in solar energy has been rising rapidly as it provides a renewable and environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels. Global solar capacity reached over 900 gigawatts (GW) in 2021 and saw growth of over 30% from the previous year, demonstrating the momentum and high potential of solar energy. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the average annual growth rate for solar over the past decade is an impressive 24%. With supportive policies and continued advancements in technology, the future looks very bright for solar to become a major pillar in the world’s transition to renewable energy.

Solar Energy is Renewable

Solar energy is considered a renewable energy source because it comes from the sun, which will continue shining for billions of years (1). Unlike fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal which are finite resources, the sun provides a constant and perpetual source of energy. As long as the sun continues to produce energy in the form of sunlight, solar power will remain a renewable resource.

The process of generating electricity from sunlight using photovoltaic solar panels is sustainable and renewable. Solar panels convert the sun’s rays directly into usable electricity without creating any greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot deplete the sun’s energy supplies by harnessing its power. The amount of solar energy that hits the Earth’s surface in one hour is more than the entire world’s energy usage in a year (2). This demonstrates the immense renewable potential of solar power.

In summary, solar energy qualifies as a renewable resource because of its infinite nature and sustainability. As long as the sun shines, solar power systems can produce clean electricity without depletion or environmental damage.



Solar Energy is Non-Conventional

Conventional energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas have been used for electricity generation for over a century. These sources are considered conventional as they have been commonly used and relied upon for the bulk of our energy needs. Fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are finite resources concentrated in certain geographical locations. Extraction and transportation of these fuels has led to environmental concerns.

On the other hand, solar energy is considered a non-conventional source of energy. Non-conventional energy sources are defined as sources that are renewable, unlimited and environmentally friendly. Solar energy is freely available, abundant and harnesses the power of sunlight to generate electricity with zero emissions. Solar along with other renewable energy sources like wind, hydroelectric and biomass provide an alternative to conventional fossil fuels. As solar technology continues to improve and deployment expands globally, solar is transitioning from an alternative energy to a mainstream energy source.


Advantages of Solar Energy

Solar energy has several key advantages that make it an attractive renewable energy source. Some of the main advantages of solar power include:

Clean and Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions – Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy does not produce air pollutants or greenhouse gases when converted into electricity. This makes solar power a clean, green energy source that can help combat climate change. According to the Energy Department, every kilowatt-hour of solar power reduces CO2 emissions by an average of 1 pound (Source).

Renewable and Unlimited Resource – Solar energy is a renewable resource, meaning it cannot be depleted like fossil fuels. The amount of sun that reaches the earth’s surface in one hour could meet the world’s energy demands for an entire year (Source). It is also available in some form virtually everywhere on the planet.

Can be Deployed Broadly – Solar technologies can be installed at different scales, from small rooftop systems to large utility-scale solar farms. This makes solar a flexible energy solution that can be deployed in rural and urban areas. Rooftop solar provides clean electricity directly at the point of consumption.

Low Operating Costs – Once installed, the fuel for solar electricity is free, as no resources are consumed to capture the sun’s energy. This gives solar power a price advantage over conventional power plants in the long run.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

While solar energy has many benefits, there are some downsides to consider as well:

High upfront installation costs – Installing a solar energy system can cost tens of thousands of dollars upfront. The exact cost depends on system size, panels, inverters and labor [1]. This high initial investment deters some homeowners and businesses.

Intermittent power source dependent on sunlight – Solar panels only produce energy when the sun is shining. At night and on cloudy days, solar panel output is diminished. Additional energy storage is needed for 24/7 power.

Large land areas needed for utility-scale projects – Major solar farms require large plots of land, from 20-100 acres. Finding suitable large, sunny areas near transmission lines can be challenging. Rooftop solar on homes and buildings helps utilize existing space [2].

Solar Technology Overview

The first solar technology was discovered in 1839 when French physicist Edmond Becquerel observed the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with metal electrodes in an electrolyte solution. However, it wasn’t until 1954 that researchers at Bell Labs in the U.S. created the first modern solar cell made of silicon and capable of converting sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of around 6%.

In the 1970s and 1980s, solar technology advanced rapidly with the development of more efficient solar cells, lower manufacturing costs, and installation incentives. By the 1990s, solar PV panels were commonly used for small-scale applications like powering satellites, road signs, and calculators. Advances in materials science and manufacturing enabled the scaling up of solar installations in the 2000s, making solar energy more cost-competitive.

Today the two main types of solar technologies are photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). PV solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity using semiconducting materials. Panels made of interconnected PV cells can be mounted on rooftops or ground-mounted to generate power. CSP systems use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and convert it into heat to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity on a larger scale.

Growth of Solar Globally

Solar energy capacity additions have been growing at an exponential rate globally. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar industry has experienced an average annual growth rate of 24% in the last decade alone (

In 2021, solar accounted for 58% of all new electricity generating capacity added in the U.S., with 23.6 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity installed ( Market research predicts that new solar additions will continue breaking records, with over 200 GW of new solar capacity forecast in 2023 globally.

China, the U.S., Japan, Germany, and India are among the top countries leading the world in solar capacity additions. In the U.S., residential solar is projected to grow around 6,000-7,000 megawatts per year between 2023-2027 according to forecasts by SEIA. India aims to reach 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022 as part of its national solar mission (

With decreasing costs and supportive policies, solar power is poised for continued exponential growth worldwide in the coming decades.

Growth of Solar in India

India has set ambitious targets for solar energy growth and expansion. The Indian government aims to increase solar power capacity to 100 GW by 2022 as part of its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement ( India plans to install 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 GW will be from solar power. The target for 2030 is even more ambitious, with a goal of having 450 GW of renewable energy capacity in place, including 280 GW of solar capacity. India’s installed solar capacity has grown rapidly in recent years, from just 3 GW in 2014 to more than 44GW in 2021, according to data from IEA ( However, more growth will be needed to meet the 100 GW by 2022 target.

Major milestones for India’s solar expansion include setting up the world’s largest solar power plant at a single location, in the Kamuthi Solar Power Project with a capacity of 648 MW in Tamil Nadu. In addition, the Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan spanning 14,500 acres is one of the largest solar parks in the world with a total capacity of 2,245 MW. Gujarat also leads with over 8 GW of installed solar capacity (

While solar growth has accelerated, India still faces challenges to scale up further and meet its ambitious targets. Constraints on land availability, grid capacity, regulations, and financing access have slowed growth at times. However, the government has schemes in place to support rooftop solar, solar parks and ultra-mega projects to help overcome these barriers. The outlook remains positive for India to continue expanding its solar energy capacity and make major contributions to renewable energy globally.

Environmental Impact

Solar energy has several environmental advantages compared to fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. Unlike fossil fuels, solar panels do not emit greenhouse gases or toxic air pollutants when generating electricity ( According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the electricity produced from photovoltaic solar panels offsets over 24 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually in the United States. This is equivalent to removing over 5 million cars from the road ( As a renewable energy source, solar can help mitigate climate change and reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuel usage.

However, utility-scale solar projects that require large land areas can raise some environmental concerns. The land use changes and habitat loss from solar farms can negatively impact local wildlife, vegetation, and ecosystems. Proper siting, planning, and mitigation strategies are needed to minimize the land use impacts of large solar installations ( Overall, solar energy delivers significant environmental benefits compared to conventional power generation sources, but the land use changes from large projects should be managed responsibly.


In summary, solar energy is considered both renewable and non-conventional. It is renewable because it comes from the sun, which will continue providing energy for billions of years. And it is non-conventional because it does not rely on fossil fuels like coal, oil or natural gas.

Some of the key benefits of solar energy showing why it is important for the future are that it is abundant, inexhaustible, and pollution-free. Once solar panels are installed, the energy source is free. Solar technology is also rapidly improving and costs are declining. With global climate change a major concern, shifting to renewable solar energy will be crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment.

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