Select the search type
  • Site
  • Web
Search

The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Solar Shines

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, October 28, 2014/Categories: sustainability, environment, Archive Pick of the Week

Riled Up has been an enthusiastic supporter of solar power as a renewable energy source. A revolution in its use has now underway and it has only just begun. Originally invented in the 1960s to power communication satellites and space probes, solar cells take advantage of the photovoltaic effect -- where silicon materials can capture light energy to generate a current -- enabling them to generate their own power.

While once very expensive, PV panels now produce electricity economically at residential, commercial, and industrial scales. The National Renewable Energy Lab ( NREL) has produced a map of annual PV potential in watts/square meter.


Photovoltaic Potential in Watts/square foot/day (credit: NREL)

Solar cells had limitations. These included: high manufacturing costs for the cells; their low efficiency; low battery electrical storage capacity; resistance from the public utilities to adopt non-fossil fuel sources; and challenges to established grid infrastructures.

While battery storage still needs improvement, manufacturing costs for solar cells and their electrical efficiency have improved in both directions. In 1977, the cost to produce a watt of power was $75. By 2014, this had dropped to $0.75/watt or a decline of 99%. While at the same time, solar efficiency more than doubled. The curve of declining costs, more typically associated with silicon chips for computers, now shows the same declines in silicon cells for solar power.

 
Price Decline in Crystalline Silicon Cells, 1977-2013 (credit: Bloomberg)

It is worth remembering that more energy hits the earth as sunlight in one hour than humans can use in one year.

The revolution in production of solar energy has now taken off and will accelerate. It offers shining opportunities for everyone.

WHB
Print

Number of views (4900)/Comments (0)

Please login or register to post comments.

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x
Hawaii's Vanishing Birds Monday, August 7, 20170

Hawaii's Vanishing Birds

Hawaii's endemic birds are declining fast.

Catching An Eclipse Event Sunday, August 6, 20170

Catching An Eclipse Event

Prepare for some very cool eclipse events.

A Monumental President Saturday, August 5, 20170

A Monumental President

Two new national monuments were designated.

Blue Genes and Chrysanthemums Friday, August 4, 20170

Blue Genes and Chrysanthemums

Blue genes for fashionable flowers.

National Tree Day Wednesday, August 2, 20170

National Tree Day

Tree planting goes national in Australia.

The First Flower Tuesday, August 1, 20170

The First Flower

Reconstructing the evolution of flowers, step by step.

Radar Mapping Glaciers Monday, July 31, 20170

Radar Mapping Glaciers

Radar for glacier ice-loss maps.

It's Hotter Saturday, July 29, 20170

It's Hotter

The data is in and summers are hotter.

Supporting Public Lands Friday, July 28, 20170

Supporting Public Lands

Join the campaign to protect public lands.

Advice To A Young Scientist Wednesday, July 26, 20170

Advice To A Young Scientist

We still need you!

Terrestrial Orchids of SW Australia: Plant of the Month Tuesday, July 25, 20170

Terrestrial Orchids of SW Australia: Plant of the Month

Rare plants from a little known biological 'hotspot'.

What Rivers Can Tell About Earth's History Saturday, July 22, 20170

What Rivers Can Tell About Earth's History

Rivers tells us about Earth's history.

Holographic Microbes Friday, July 21, 20170

Holographic Microbes

Exobiology as holograms.

When Monsoons Arrive Wednesday, July 19, 20170

When Monsoons Arrive

Monsoons bring benefits and problems as they arrive.

Reef Fish and Oil Don't Mix Tuesday, July 18, 20170

Reef Fish and Oil Don't Mix

Oil affects fish behavior, badly.

Pluto, the movie Sunday, July 16, 20170

Pluto, the movie

NASA movie of Pluto.

Juno's Jupiter: the Great Red Spot Friday, July 14, 20170

Juno's Jupiter: the Great Red Spot

Juno's deep view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

Lights, Action, CRISPR Thursday, July 13, 20170

Lights, Action, CRISPR

The era of using DNA as a storage device begins.