Most solar experts are excited about the future of solar energy. No matter how you look at it, solar is here to stay and promises great things for the world. Solar power will eventually dominate global energy. It may happen more quickly than anyone anticipated and could happen as soon as 2050. The reason behind the surge of solar energy as a primary power source is that it different. It is resilient, abundant, and sustainable – all of which make it very well-suited to the needs of the 21st century. In fact, this article at The Washington Post explains how beneficial solar panels are after just 2 years.
What Makes Solar Different?
Every other source of commercial electricity must spin a turbine to produce power. Gas plants, coal plants, and nuclear power plants produce steam that spins a turbine. Even windmill arrays harness the wind to spin turbines. Hydropower uses water to spin a turbine. All of these spinning turbines provide the mechanical force necessary to generate electrical current.
Solar is different. It directly converts sunlight into electricity. Small photons of light stimulate the surface of the semiconductor which knocks lose the electrons which become part of the charged electrical field. This generates an electromotive force which can be sent out through wires to light up homes and businesses.
This difference provides three major advantages for solar power.
- There are no moving parts which means maintenance and operational costs are low.
- No fuel is required. Once the initial investment is paid, the power the system produces is free.
- Solar generates no pollution. Well, almost no pollution. Current methods for disposal and manufacture of solar cells does produce waste and require fuel, so solar is not 100% pollution free.
Distribution of Solar Energy
Solar power can be easily distributed. Any location that feels the sun, can produce solar power. One of the criticisms of solar power is that the amount of energy generated is relatively small without huge arrays of solar panels. To gather the amounts of solar energy necessary to run an industrial civilization, would take an enormous amount of square footage. Critics believe this limits the possible contributions of solar energy.
In fact, the opposite is true. As the use of solar energy grows, improvements in technology will happen. The price of silicon panels has plunged dramatically over the last several years. Researchers are now studying how to produce these panels and the solar batteries with materials which are less toxic and lighter. Some manufacturing plants are producing solar panels with more than 40 percent efficiency.
The future of solar energy will include solar cells embedded in structures such as roads, building roofs, windows, and even backpacks. With the intense research and development efforts happening today, it will take little time until we see modular, small, and highly-efficient solar cells embedded every new building, car, and road. Solar will be a routine part of everything we do, and as the storage and production elements get smaller and cheaper, they will be better integrated into our daily lives.
Companies offering solar panel services, including installations, have surfaced in many of the common “solar” areas. However, some areas are ripe for solar energy and many consumers don’t even realize it. For instance, Solar Plus USA, a solar company in Illinois, provides solar services in Chicagoland. They also outline some of the solar tax benefits in Illinois that many people may have been unaware of.
If solar energy continues to evolve in the direction we are seeing today, it will eventually rise to be the dominant source of energy all over the world.
This infographic from AENews does an awesome job at outlining the benefits of solar: