Introduction to Solar Power

Here are some important facts about solar power:

  • 100 square miles of solar panels harvesting just 10% of the sun’s energy could produce enough energy for the entire United States.
  • Currently, .05% of US power comes from solar power (yes, you read that percentage right)

Here is a very basic description of how solar power works (without the physics lesson):

Solar cells are made of semiconductors, which are usually made from silicon, because they hold on to their power until it reaches the desired level also called “band gap energy.” Once it reaches the correct level it kicks the energy out through the appropriate channels to meet up with its opposite energy to create an electrical current.

Solar power cost vary by region meaning it could cost $21,000 to put a system in home in Nova Scotia or Phoenix, AZ but in Phoenix more energy (or kilowatt hours) will be created because of the suns intensity therefore reducing the overall cost of the system. Since the sun obviously does not shine all day nor is as strong in every part of the country the use and true cost of solar power is variable.

Current limitations of Solar Energy:

  • Storage of the energy harnessed by the sun needs to be tackled by the industry. Currently, it falls more in a use it or lose it scenario. There are devices that can store the energy but they are not cost effective at this time.
  • There is a growing shortage of crystaline silicon which is used to make current solar panels because they have to use large quanities of it to make the panels thick enough to keep the energy. Industry leaders say that there needs to be a thinner panels developed so that they get better results using less resources.

I will post in a few days some of the companies that are leading the way in solar power and what they do.   

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3 thoughts on “Introduction to Solar Power

  1. Interesting article! It seems that solar power is deemed as a panacea, due to its relative reliability, and the fact that it takes up little space and doesn’t make noise.

    However, solar panel production has massive environmental burdens, especially in China. Due to lack of (read: non-existent) dumping laws, the chemicals used to produce are extremely harmful to the environment and its residents.

    It’s something commonly overlooked, but also something that must not be ignored.

  2. Pingback: Earth Day 40 Years from now… « Green4u’s Weblog

  3. Pingback: My Top 10 Posts About the Environment « Green4u’s Weblog

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