Research shows that solar panels outperform forest planting as an overall strategy for mitigating climate change.
Forests mitigate climate change by binding carbon dioxide. Photovoltaics (PV) mitigates climate change by replacing fossil fuels. Both increase the global heat load by darkening the Earth’s surface, which absorbs heat.
A 2022 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change titled “The potential of photovoltaics to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” found that photovoltaics has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 gigatons per year by 2050, while forestry can only reduce them by 2 gigatons per year.
Comparative studies of photovoltaic solar energy compared to forestry
The study found that photovoltaics is more effective than forestry in mitigating climate change because it can generate electricity more efficiently and sustainably. Forestry, on the other hand, requires large areas and can have a negative impact on biodiversity. Since solar panels can be installed in a variety of locations, it is easy to deploy them anywhere in the world.
The study also found that photovoltaics are more cost-effective than forestry in mitigating climate change. The costs of photovoltaics have fallen significantly in recent years, while the costs of forestry have increased.
Of course, photovoltaics and forestry are not the only strategies for mitigating climate change. Other strategies include energy efficiency, investing in renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and industry.
However, research shows that photovoltaics are a particularly effective and cost-effective strategy for mitigating climate change. Photovoltaics can be a clean, renewable energy source that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The methodology of the study on solar panels vs. forest planting
Raphael Stern, Jonathan Mueller and their colleagues tested which land use (trees or solar panels) would offset the heat gain by darkening the surface more quickly. The authors measured the surface albedo of the solar field in the hyperarid region of the Arava Valley in Israel.
Forest health data were measured at a research station in the Yatir Forest on the northern edge of the Negev Desert. The authors used these data to calculate the equilibrium time required to balance the positive radiative forcing due to reduction in albedo and the negative radiative forcing due to avoidance of carbon dioxide emissions from photovoltaic energy production or sequestration. Carbon from forest sections.
In semi-arid areas, solar fields become profitable in about two and a half years and begin to deliver climate change benefits, 50 times faster than reforestation. In wetlands the difference is not much, but solar panels still have an advantage.
The authors note that forests provide many benefits beyond climate change mitigation, including ecosystems, climate regulation and social services.
In order to achieve international climate goals, photovoltaics and other renewable energy technologies must be used on a large scale. It is also important to manage forests sustainably to maximize their carbon sequestration potential.
With information from: