▷ Greenhouse gases and photovoltaic solar energy

Greenhouse gases and climate change

In recent years, the discussion of what are greenhouse gases and the damage that uncontrolled human activity does to the planet has been brought to the fore.

A greenhouse gas or GHG is the gas that absorbs and emits radiation in the infrared range, trapping heat in the atmosphere. 

Although it is a natural process, when we talk about climate change, we refer to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions above their natural values thanks to human action.

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What are greenhouse gases

There are natural gases and other “human” gases, that is, produced by industrial activity. So when it comes to what are greenhouse gases it refers to the existence of both, their concentration and their danger.

Water vapor (H2O)

When the water evaporates or when it reaches its boiling point, water vapor gas is obtained. It can happen by evaporation of liquid water or by sublimation of ice (when it goes from solid to gaseous without going through the liquid state).

It is one of the GHGs that most affects the generation of the greenhouse effect thanks to the absorption of infrared rays.

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Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is produced thanks to the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal or natural gas, forests, solid waste, biological materials or as a result of some chemical reactions, such as manufacture of cement, for example.

These activities increase greenhouse gas emissions, and their effect has steadily increased since the First Industrial Revolution.

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Methane (CH4)

It is the result of the production and transportation of oil, natural gas and coal. It is also issued in livestock practices (for meat and milk consumption) and agricultural practices.

Naturally, it has its origin from the anaerobic decomposition of plants (biogas) and constitutes 97% of natural gas.

Nitrous oxide (N2O)

This gas is emitted in industrial and agricultural activities, in the burning of fossil fuels and waste, and also in the treatment of wastewater.

Fluorinated gases

They are gases that come from the processes of obtaining hydrocarbon derivatives; They are powerful and synthetic and, although they are emitted in small quantities, their polluting potential is very high. That is why they are known as Potential Global Warming Gases.

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Factors that intervene in climate change

We already know what greenhouse gases are. Now, these gases depend on three factors that influence climate change: the concentration, the time they stay in the atmosphere and the force with which they affect it.


It refers to the amount of the specific gas that exists in the air . greenhouse gas emissions have a higher concentration in the atmosphere.

Concentration is usually measured in parts per million, per billion, and even per billion trillion. Thus, one part of water diluted in 50 liters of liquid (such as the fuel tank of a small car) would be equivalent to one part per million.

For example, methane gas has a global warming potential of 23, despite having a very low concentration, that is, in 100 years each kilogram of methane warms the planet 23 times more than the mass of CO > 2.

However, the concentration of carbon dioxide is 220 times higher than methane, so CO 2 is much more harmful than methane.

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Each of the gases remains in the atmosphere for different periods of time, from a few years to thousands, but long enough to mix well. This means that when measured they give a roughly the same result everywhere, regardless of the source of the emissions.


Some are stronger than others, and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) is calculated for each one, which reflects the average time spent in the atmosphere and the force with which it absorbs energy.

Which are the most harmful greenhouse gases indicates, thus, that those with a higher GWP absorb more energy per kilo and contribute more to global warming.

A sustainable alternative: photovoltaic solar energy

One measure to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases is photovoltaic solar energy. This type of renewable and clean energy transforms the sun’s energy directly into electrical energy based on photovoltaic technology.

Electricity is generated when solar radiation hits one of the faces of a photovoltaic cell in solar panels. The radiation generates a difference in electrical potential between the two faces, the electrons jump from one place to another and thus energy is produced.

There are 3 types of solar panels: thermal, thermodynamic and photovoltaic.

Thermals receive direct solar radiation, thermodynamics work regardless of whether there is sun or not, and photovoltaics generate enough energy for a home.

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Advantages of photovoltaic solar energy

Why is photovoltaic solar energy the most suitable to contribute to sustainable development?

Because it is inexhaustible, does not pollute and helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Photovoltaic solar energy does not emit toxic gases or pollutants, does not produce waste nor does it pollute water, therefore that its use to generate electricity contributes effectively to reducing global warming.

In addition, both the installation and the consumption of photovoltaic energy (and also wind energy) in many parts of the world are even cheaper than conventional electrical energy.

That means that competitive prices will make using photovoltaics more convenient not only from an environmental point of view but also economically.

Today, the technology is available almost anywhere in the world, which contributes to local employment and to the elimination of energy imports. On the other hand, as its source is the sun, it is inexhaustible and is constantly renewed.