Solar Energy’s Environmental Impact

October 17, 2021

Through a combination of lower adaptive capacity with particular socio-economic conditions, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the regions that is most exposed to the adverse effects of climate change in the world. Though the region has contributed the least to climate change, extreme weather conditions will worsen in the region if its growing population continues to heavily rely on polluting fossil fuels for the electricity production. For example, over 55% of households in Nigeria still rely on kerosene generators and fuel-based lighting options, and will pay to charge their mobile phones in addition to frequent generator maintenance. Reducing this reliance is becoming a more and more urgent matter for the people and the environment, and solar energy has the power to do this.

Solar Energy and its Potential to Impact the Environment

With about 23% of incoming solar energy absorbed by atmospheric gases, dust, and other particles, 48% of it is absorbed by the Earth’s surface. As such, solar electricity has the potential to supply energy consumption for residential and small commercial settings. On an industrial scale, solar energy reduces emissions drastically. By being sourced from the light and the heat of the sun, technology allows solar energy to be transformed into electricity, moving reliance away from fossil fuels. 

Reducing the Greenhouse Effect

With close to 1 billion people in Africa with poor or no access to the grid and 85 million people in Nigeria alone living out of its reach, the population heavily relies on fossil fuels for their electricity production.

Using these fuels and burning them to create power releases greenhouse gasses: CO2 along with other air pollutants, that accumulate in the atmosphere. These then absorb sunlight and solar radiation that bounce off the earth’s surface, which with time, lead to rising temperatures. By using sustainable energy, greenhouse gasses are not released and toxic waste does not form either.

Reducing Pollution

Not only are the gasses produced by traditional energy makers using fossil fuels enabling global warming, they also release hazardous fumes and smoke that contribute to pollution levels. By switching to solar energy, 461kg of CO2 per year is avoided per household; the equivalent to 1/10 of the CO2 produced by an average car in a year. Indeed, Lumos’ customer base will mitigate more carbon than is emitted by a Boeing 737-400 flying from London to New York 12,000 times. 

Pollution-related deaths are also a concern in Nigeria where there are roughly 1,500 deaths every year due to smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. As solar energy adoption increases, indoor pollution deaths will also reduce with less respiratory diseases and heart conditions and a better life quality to follow.

By generating electricity from the sun and utilising renewable solar energy technologies to power households and small businesses, Sub-Saharan Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced as it shows to be the most environment-friendly and apt to tackle the climate crisis. Lumos helps achieve this by allowing individuals and small businesses to have easy access to clean energy, contributing to bringing down pollution levels on a larger scale.

Additionally, solar power has an ever-growing role in enabling a new climate economy to be built, and can provide resilient and reliable energy networks that will help support a thriving community.