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Let the Sunshine in! Solar Fuel as a Solution for the Energy Problem

Let the Sunshine in! Solar Fuel as a Solution for the Energy Problem

A pressing problem facing the world nowadays is the global environmental problem, one aspect of which is the energy problem. This problem is characterized by the depletion of natural energy sources and the environmental damage caused by CO2 emissions. Lately mankind has sought a solution to this problem, but this debate has been painfully slow. This is where a new solution to the energy problem comes into play: solar fuel. Can it offer a groundbreaking solution to the energy crisis?

Solar fuel expands on an older energy source, which has rapidly evolved in the last years: solar energy. There was, however, one problem with these energy sources: it was difficult to store on a big scale. This means that when there was an abundance of sunlight, you would not  use all of it and if there was a cloudy day, you could not use solar energy. Luckily, solar fuel can pose the missing link in efficient use of solar energy. The chemical and physical process associated with solar fuel is complicated and  it works more or less like this: solar energy is converted using water and carbon-dioxide, forming hydrogen and carbon. This hydrogen en carbon is then converted via photosynthetic process, forming synthetic fuel as a result which can then be used to fuel cars and household appliances.

Furthermore, because CO2 is taken from industrial processes to form synthetic gas, there is an ultimate break-even point in which the carbon emission is neutral. This potential efficiency is the reason why solar fuel is so extensively developed. Battery cells which are used to store solar energy nowadays are less efficient and besides this, there is no long-term environmental damage done by synthetic gases, as is the case with batteries.

Consequently, this new form of energy will not only supply mankind with a green and sustainable form of energy, it will also provide us with a way out of the ever so increasing problem with depleting natural energy sources. Several companies worldwide are competing in increasing the efficiency of solar fuel extensively to become the world leader in supplying solar fuel. With the Netherlands and Germany cooperating on this matter, solar fuel is most definitely a promising future for green energy.


About Tom Bosma

Tom Bosma is a third year student in IR/IO with a specific interest for the relationship between International Relations and subjects such as sustainable development, culture and technology.

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