By 2030, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) need to be met. The goals cover various essential sectors such as health, gender equality, education, ending poverty, and energy access. The objectives are ambitious and enjoy varying support across governments. Solar energy is an instrumental SDGs pillar in providing sustainable clean energy for all.
The demand for energy keeps increasing the world over. EIA projects that the world electricity demand will increase by 28% by 2040. Mostly, developing countries experienced this surge. Solar power offers access to essential energy.
Let us look at how solar energy is helping achieve the SDGs.
Solar Power’s Role in Achieving SDG
When it comes to the generation of energy, sustainability, and environmental concerns need to be addressed. Traditionally, energy production has been in the fossil fuels and gas sectors. As much as these activities produce more energy, they affect the environment leading to global warming. As a result, the areas where these activities happen may experience a low quality of life.
Additionally, the fuel produced is transported to other developed countries. Sometimes, the price of oil is relatively high, and the source is unable to afford it. SDG 7 focuses on the production of affordable and clean energy. Meeting these two requirements will lead to sustainable development. Here is how solar power is taking center stage in the achievement of this goal.
Providing Clean and Affordable Energy for Everyone
Solar is leading in the world as the fastest growing renewable energy source. The technology is relatively new, and it’s just starting to show its potential. What’s more, solar energy is going beyond all expectations as it has exceeded all forecasts.
One would attribute the growth in solar to the remarkable drop in its costs. At its inception 60 years ago, the price of solar was $1,910 per watt. The price made it a niche commodity. Currently, solar is the cheapest form of energy. The installation prices have also decreased, and trends project they will keep lowering.
The low costs of power have led to a decrease in the Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). There are projections that it could reduce from 0.13 to 0.06 $US/kWh by the year 2025. Solar has now become an accessible source of energy for everyone.
Notably, prices are also low in developing countries. In 2015, more developing countries invested in renewable energy when compared to developed countries. In these countries, solar power produces much more affordable energy than coal, oil, and gas.
Solar power is also much more affordable in developing nations due to the lack of infrastructure for facilitating traditional energy sources. Due to this, these countries usually benefit directly from the drop in solar prices. Having a clean and sustainable source of energy through power is helping meet the growing demand.
Solar Powering Development
The apparent way solar power contributes to the SDG is by providing clean and affordable energy. There are many other goals that solar energy helps when it comes to SDG. Research proves that when communities access a reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy source, they gain social, economic benefits. Such benefits include:
1. The Environment
All year round, you will hear people talk about climate change effects—issues of sporadic and extreme weather events such as ranging droughts, fires, or hurricanes and tornadoes. Rising sea level is another issue that dominates the headlines. These changes have a direct effect on the efforts put in place to achieve the SDGs.
Fossil fuels contribute to destroying the environment. It directly contributes to low land, air, and water quality. Investing in solar energy and other renewable energy sources fulfills the energy goals and protects the environment. It lowers emissions of greenhouse gases without affecting the growth of a country.
2. Economic Growth
Not only does a country get to cut back on emissions and lower the carbon footprint, but it also attains economic growth through solar. One direct way solar does this is the provision of new job opportunities. These jobs are much safer and stable compared to other energy sources.
Another thing about solar energy is it provides opportunities for more economic activities. These activities are essential in fostering development from the bottom up. Entrepreneurs can invest in new opportunities as new business models emerge, providing a foundation for electricity production. Issues of supply can also demand a much more centralized system.
A good example of this is the rise of solar-powered micro-enterprises in developing countries. These businesses supply energy to the people, whether to light up stores, charge phones, or other needs. Such jobs are vital in eliminating poverty, the first goal in SDGs.
3. Closing the Gap between the Rich and the Poor
SDG 10 address inequality within and among countries. Solar power energy facilitates this by offering a level playing field in cities and rural communities. Thus, it ensures all have the same opportunities. One sector that can best explain this is the internet.
Currently, about 59% of the world has access to the internet. The rest is “internetless”, mostly because of the lack of electricity and infrastructure. When solar power is adopted in areas without grid connection, people can use solar-powered devices to connect to the rest of the world. Access to the internet offers many opportunities for people who are at a disadvantage.
As 2020 has shown, the internet is crucial in accessing education. SDG 4 addressing quality education has been set back this year, mostly in places without electricity and the internet.
Additionally, schools can lack access to electricity. Without it, the resources to use for learning as well as the time, reduce. However, with solar panels in schools, there is a provision of the necessary power to keep the kids in school longer. Computers and internet connections can now be installed in those places so that children can learn more skills.
4. Provides Basic Human Rights
Fundamental rights, such as access to water, food, and healthcare, have now been made possible through solar power. In the modern world, farmers rely on a solar-powered irrigation system to help increase food production. When there is surplus food, it increases food security, reducing hunger, which addresses SDG 2. According to studies, when farmers replace diesel-powered pumps with solar-powered ones, they can increase annual savings by about 161 percent.
In terms of health care, solar energy also leads to the achievement of the SDGs. First, solar is a clean energy source, and it does not pollute the air. For this reason, most countries adopting this technology have clean air, and their citizens are not prone to disease or poor health due to pollution.
Another use of solar is in modernizing health care facilities and making them highly effective. Solar-powered health care can keep the lights on, keep life-saving machines operating, refrigerate vaccines, and many other life-saving activities. To achieve SDG 3, more and more facilities need to install solar panels. They provide reliable and cost-effective electricity. Health facilities can also save money on electricity bills, which can be reinvested in the facility.
Achieving Gender Equality
SDG 5 aims to attain gender equality by empowering all women and girls. Children in developing countries, especially girls, can get an education when there is access to electricity. Energy also increases entrepreneurial pursuits for women. As a result, women become more independent as they access more opportunities to work. Availability of solar in the community helps to level the field for women and girls.
The Future of Solar Energy in Achieving SDGs
Solar provides exciting solutions to most of the problems captured in the SDGs. It is even more attractive as it can be used by large and small communities alike. Solar has been touted as the energy of the future as it becomes more affordable. However, even with this fete, many communities still can’t afford it.
There is a requirement for about $45 billion annual investments for the world to meet universal access to clean energy. For this reason, it is crucial to mobilize public-private partnerships.
Solar is an attractive option as it is scalable. You can find it in large scale farming, microgrids, or solar-powered lights because it offers solutions to most of the problems facing the world today. Large solar farms can be connected to the grid to provide electricity to many people.
SDGs are ambitious but well-intentioned goals. 2030 is only a decade away. Solar energy has demonstrated beyond doubt how its adaptation can help the world meet those goals. With sustainable power for everyone, the world can end poverty, address health care issues, and provide children with quality education. Additionally, it can help bridge the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the poor as economies grow.
Lastly, governments and private sectors’ participation can help make sure solar power reaches all the underprivileged communities. This way, the world can communally achieve these ambitious goals with solar energy at the heart of it all.
Want to be part of the global sustainability goals? Solar energy is one of the ways to help in the realization of SDGs. Contact Dynamic SLR today and start the journey to a sustainable and reliable source of energy.