Our collective knowledge and cataloging of solar power information has grown a great deal since the early nineteen fifties. And with it, our implementation of those solar power theories have enabled us to generate solar energy at lower and lower costs.
And now, with the cost of fossil fuel energy going higher and higher each year, as the cost of solar power comes down each year, we may finally be reaching a tipping point where solar energy becomes viable for a large segment of the population.
The way that science has evolved in using solar power is to convert it to one of our most common forms of energy – electricity. We can then use that electricity to power our devices.
There are several ways of converting solar energy to electrical power, but the most popular is to use photovoltaic cells to convert the power from the sun. After conversion, the energy is then stored in batteries of some other storage device. Other forms of converting solar power to energy that we can use is solar thermal energy and passive solar energy. These forms of conversion are best used in case by case scenarios where there unique benefits come into play.
Advantages of Solar Power
There are many advantages to using solar power over traditional forms of fossil fuel energy.
1) Emitting almost no emissions, solar power is much cleaner fuel source.
2) Once you have invested the initial money for the solar system, except for yearly maintenance, the energy it provides is free. You have protected yourself from future spikes in gas and oil prices.
3) Some locations will produce so much energy from their solar powered systems that they will be able to sell the extra energy to energy companies. This not only helps to defray their initial construction costs, it also enable them to make money.
4) For homeowners in many parts of the country, the installation of solar panels will actually increase the value of the home at resale time.
Disadvantages of Solar Power
There are a few disadvantage of solar power as well. But most of these disadvantages are slowly disappearing.
1) The biggest one – for now – is price. But, as mentioned previously, price is slowly becoming a non-issue. There will be two separate factors working together to push the price down faster. One is the annual advances in technology which is similar to the advances in computers which continued to drive computer prices down. Two, is the fact that as more and more consumers begin to purchase solar products, manufacturing efficiencies will drive the price down as well.
2) Solar panels are not yet efficient enough to power most homes solely by themselves. However, each year, they are becoming smaller (which results in them needing a smaller footprint to produce the same amount of power) and more efficient.
3) Not all location are suitable for solar power. This is probably the biggest hurdle. The solar cells and panels of today can generate energy with much less daylight than the ones of twenty years ago. Even so, solar powered devices are much more likely to be put into practical use in places like Arizona, which has a great deal of sun, than in New York city.