The fact is, the 350,000,000 terawatts of power available from the sun is so huge that an exposure to full sun in only 15 minutes will be enough to generate the world’s energy requirement
Compare that with energy that is generated by nuclear and fossil fuel. Presently, the available data for fossil and nuclear fuel is 10,800,000 terawatts which we all know to be non-renewable.
To produce electricity, utility companies burn fossil fuels that translate to 1.3 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce 1kw of electrical power. These unwanted CO2 emissions are dumped into the atmosphere. This then translates into each typical home being accountable yearly for 22,000 pounds of CO2 emissions.
The harnessing of the sun’s rays is clean and safe. It produces no emissions and it is practical and may in the years ahead, prove very economical. In the United States, only 0.1% of the power that is generated is solar energy driven. So what are the obstacles?
According to the Wall Street Journal (in an article that was released in its August 2008 issue), there are groups, backed by political groups that are lobbying against the putting up of transmission lines for solar power. The construction of distribution lines for solar energy is also being blocked by environmental activists that restrict the delivering of solar energy to those who want it in their homes.
Another obstacle is that the power grid in the United States which was designed more than 100 years ago is now so congested in many regions. To deliver solar power to consumers, scientists and engineers will have to come out with another cost-efficient plan to transfer huge amounts of energy from one location to another.
Solar panels are considered expensive. Although a home increases its value by folds when solar-powered, the costs still could be prohibitive to most that unless the non-silicon flexible solar panels that are now being developed are released for market consumption, powering homes through solar energy could still be very limited.
Other forms of rewards to avoid fossil fuel use should still be effectively placed. The 30% tax cut to projected cost previously awarded will be more attractive if other federal credits are included to encourage further investments.
The global warming issue that has been brought to the papers is a recurrent subject of talk shows and remains to be a good news item. Also, the too unstable pump prices, should and for the most part, already be a good incentive to use this alternative source of energy.
However, effective solar energy transmission to homes will remain to be very hard unless these obstacles are breached. Assuming that these obstacles are solved today, it will still take some 10 years to convert 20% of American homes into solar energy users. Meanwhile, solar panels on individual homes remain to be the most viable alternative.
The good part of the solar energy quest is that technology is advancing very rapidly. Nanotechnology for solar power is being developed and may be available in five years’ time. Other breakthroughs in cell designs are also being developed that could, in the next few years, be a cost-effective way of generating energy without having to rely anymore on fossil and nuclear power.