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 (5377)/Comments (0)

Please login or register to post comments.

Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x
Think Green Saturday, December 2, 20170

Think Green

It's important to Think Green during this white time of year.

Solarizing South Australia Friday, December 1, 20170

Solarizing South Australia

Renewable electricity power generation took a big leap today.

Volcano May Explode, a timeline update Thursday, November 30, 20170

Volcano May Explode, a timeline update

Bali's Mount Agung could erupt any time.

Your Kids Will Live on Mars Wednesday, November 29, 20170

Your Kids Will Live on Mars

Futurists have always looked to Mars.

Tuesday for Giving Tuesday, November 28, 20170

Tuesday for Giving

3 Suggestions for Giving Tuesday

Rewilding Monday, November 27, 20170

Rewilding

or how a 'silent spring' could turn into a 'wild summer' 
Cancun's Underwater Museum Friday, November 24, 20170

Cancun's Underwater Museum

The sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor created a unique museum combining art and science in an undersea display.
My Life As A Turkey Thursday, November 23, 20170

My Life As A Turkey

If you thought turkeys were just big butterballs in the Thanksgiving oven, think again.
How the Military Fights Climate Change Monday, November 20, 20170

How the Military Fights Climate Change

The military are proactive on climate change.

Stories to Change 'Apocalypse Fatigue' into Action Saturday, November 18, 20170

Stories to Change 'Apocalypse Fatigue' into Action

Moving away from cliamte fatigue into action.

Trees Before Rain Friday, November 17, 20170

Trees Before Rain

Which came first: trees or rain?

A 'Medicane' Forms Wednesday, November 15, 20170

A 'Medicane' Forms

A medicane heads toward Italy and Greece.

Elon Musk on Solving the Climate Crisis Tuesday, November 14, 20170

Elon Musk on Solving the Climate Crisis

Incentives to solve climate change.

India's 'gas chamber' smog Monday, November 13, 20170

India's 'gas chamber' smog

Toxic smog covers north India.

Why Wildfires Are Now Bigger Saturday, November 11, 20170

Why Wildfires Are Now Bigger

Ecology, forests, and megafires.

Curing Blindness Friday, November 10, 20170

Curing Blindness

Can blindness anywhere be eliminated?

Conserving, the Mother Load Wednesday, November 8, 20170

Conserving, the Mother Load

Trying to avoid another Dust Bowl.

Restoration by Crowdfunding Tuesday, November 7, 20170

Restoration by Crowdfunding

A rare fish is restored and the ecological recovery is a good lesson.