More than half of the world’s conventional oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East. With the IEA Member countries depending on foreign sources for the majority of its oil needs, energy security is not only a matter of scarcity, but regional distribution and relations between the export and import countries. Solar energy is the most abundant and widely distributed renewable energy resource in the world, and yet the potential of this “local” energy source—produced close to where it is needed—has hardly been tapped.
Managing the interaction between energy use and the environment remains a major challenge for policy-makers today. Carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion alone creates roughly four-fifths of the total man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Solar energy displaces carbon-emitting sources while providing a non-polluting energy source for heating and cooling.
Investments made in solar thermal technologies create jobs in many different sectors from research and manufacturing to the service industry (e.g., installers and distributors). It is estimated that in 2005 alone there were 180,000 jobs in the solar thermal sector worldwide.
Benefits to Users
Increasing gas and oil prices mean higher utility bills. With no decrease in costs in sight, consumers are tied to this volatile market. Solar technologies in homes can lower the use of non-renewable energy sources for space and water heating by a factor of three. In offices, daylighting applications alone can reduce electric lighting use by 30% - 50% as well as improve worker performance.