Companies around the world are beginning to seriously consider the POWER of solar power. They are developing products that are being tested in real life as well as in experimental situations.
As with many other emerging technologies, demand is driving developers and manufacturers to address what consumers want – and that is less expensive energy.
- In Mexico a solar dish is being tested. It is made up of multiple mirrors that focus the energy of the sun creating heat which is transmitted to an engine filled with hydrogen. The expanding and contracting hydrogen gas drives pistons which power a generator which creates electricity.
- A new thin-film technology is being used on the windows of high-rise apartment buildings and skyscrapers to collect the sun’s power for use in the buildings. It is attractive and not nearly as expensive as regular solar panels.
- The same thin-film or thin-membrane technology may allow solar power to be used to produce electricity in areas where it is very cold, very hot, or even when it is cloudy. This technology generates less power per area, but it also uses less polysilicon which makes it cheaper to produce and more durable and attractive as a facade for skyscrapers and the roofs of houses. Thin-film is attracting major manufacturers around the world.
- New solar technology is using crystalline silicon cells for solar power panels. They are gradually getting smaller and less expensive. For example a tiny row of these solar power cells can run a retail store’s calculator for an entire work day and these same cells can be placed onto a roll-able mat and rolled out when needed.
One criticism of solar energy is that it cannot be relied upon for a steady supply of energy, but there are projects underway which are addressing that issue. I don’t doubt for a minute that solutions will be found very soon.
In short, solar technology is going the way of the computer industry or cell phones. The first computers filled entire rooms and did little more than crunch numbers. Now you get the same functionality available in personal computers on tiny cell phones. The main reason for this phenomenon is the invention of silicon chips. The new silicon cells for solar panels may bring a similar revolution to solar power making it a reliable, clean source of energy.
The sun is not likely to go the way of fossil fuels! Man’s ingenuity and persistence WILL find the answers! And now that universities and industry leaders are joining forces to accelerate and commercialize research in solar energy, I’m convinced that we will all be using more solar powered products in the very near future.