Oct 152013


Viable solar energy has been a long-sought-after goal, but with new and affordable technologies, we might soon be able to make the switch

We have come a long way in taming the sun’s chaotic energy since 19th century efforts to create a solar motor. Today we can efficiently heat water and buildings and even generate substantial transmittable power all from this abundant light source.

Our ability to make use of this power source has coalesced into two distinct flavors. First, we have finite, localized systems: the solar hot water heaters, passive solar heating and the like, where solar energy must be used or stored at the production site, or else it is lost. Second, we have developed more universal technologies, which generate electricity. These systems include photovoltaics—the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity via semiconductors—and concentrated solar power—the production of electricity via high-temperature steam turbines or thermodynamic engines. All solar technologies have been growing steadily over the past couple of decades, but the progress has been truly remarkable with photovoltaics: more than 1,000-fold since the late 1980s and continuing at a robust pace.

Solar is the most abundant energy resource on planet Earth. Even after accounting for weather variation, the average solar power received by the continents alone peaks at 23 million gigawatts. For comparison, a standard size nuclear power plant is one gigawatt. It dwarfs all the other renewable energy resources combined—including wind, hydropower and geothermal—and one year’s worth of solar would far exceed the reserves of finite energy resources (nuclear and fossil) even when counting unconventional shale and deep-sea oil and methane.

Unfortunately, unlike countries such as even the relatively cloudy Germany, solar as an energy source still goes largely unnoticed in the U.S., where the resource is still viewed as marginal by many in decision-making positions. In particular, there is a widely held perception that:

  • The solar resource requires too much space to exploit.
  • Solar energy is too expensive.
  • Intermittency caused by weather, day-night cycles and seasons is a showstopper.

Compared with many other energy sources, solar can require relatively little space to create power.

Read more . . .


The Latest on: Viable solar energy
  • Martin: Everyone's a winner in Alberta's first renewable energy auction
    on December 16, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Solar energy tends to produce during times when wind energy is reduced ... meaning it might require less government assistance to be viable. Alberta should also conduct rounds with longer operational date requirements to let technologies with longer ... […]

  • My Turn: New Hampshire’s path toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2040
    on December 15, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    We currently import roughly $2.9 billion dollars each year of fossil fuel products that could be replaced by in-state renewable energy resources while creating new jobs; a viable biomass and small hydro industry; a strong solar and growing wind industry ... […]

  • Why Trackers Are Essential to Profitable Utility-Scale Solar Projects
    on December 15, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Employing optimal design strategies to maximize energy production is especially important in northern areas of the United States, where steeply declining system prices have made solar financially viable despite the fact that solar insolation is so much ... […]

  • SunTegra seeks to become powerhouse in growing solar roofing sector
    on December 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Photo by Bob Rozycki Slowly but surely, the solar energy industry is growing in the area ... and businesses that it claims are more aesthetically pleasing and financially viable alternatives to standard, rack-mounted solar panels. […]

  • A NH plan for 100 percent renewable energy by 2040
    on December 14, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    a viable biomass and small hydro industry, C) a strong solar and growing wind industry, D) a huge potential for Gulf of Maine off-shore wind energy, E) municipalities interested in community energy projects and efficiency upgrades and F) still largely ... […]

via Google News and Bing News

Other Interesting Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: