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.
The Latest on: Viable solar energy
Global energy demand to grow
on March 16, 2018 at 3:00 am
Technology is producing low-cost wind and solar and more environmentally responsible oil ... the technology that has created multiple sources of viable energy also has given consumers new choices, said Mike Ming, vice president and executive liaison ... […]
Interest in Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Is Growing. So Are Fears They Aren’t Viable
on March 14, 2018 at 4:08 am
In the December 2017 edition of the National University of Singapore’s Energy Studies Institute Bulletin, for example, Canadian academic Professor M.V. Ramana provided a detailed argument for why SMRs could never be a viable technology. Nuclear plants in ... […]
Energy storage or grid extension – wrong question, right answers, finds panel
on March 14, 2018 at 3:41 am
On day one of Energy Storage Europe ... “Even in Düsseldorf, which is not renowned for its sun, solar power’s price per kWh is viable.” The issue of grid service provision and the interaction between flexible storage solutions and the network ... […]
ISA plan to develop over 1000 GW of solar energy by 2030
on March 14, 2018 at 3:09 am
... in a happy situation where renewable energy has become viable. Solar energy is the future.” The previous three partnerships were signed by ISA with the World Bank, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. […]
European Investment Bank Provided €1.05 Billion In Solar Financing In 2017
on March 12, 2018 at 11:11 am
This can be achieved through improved access to energy alongside scaling up a viable alternative to fossil fuels. The European Investment Bank – the EU bank – welcomes the vision of the International Solar Alliance to ensure those countries most ... […]
via Google News and Bing News