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Applications of Solar Energy

published: 2010-11-05 16:44

Solar energy is a clean source of energy that produces zero carbon emission. It is a perfect solution to worldwide climatic problems that we now believe are a result of excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is generated by converting solar radiation into electricity current that will then be used to power light bulbs, computers, and even your car.

For more than a century since its invention, applications of solar technology have developed a significant role in providing sustainable energy to satisfy the fast growing global power demand. Yet, due to technological and practical limitations, solar energy has not been able to keep up with the pace of energy demand growth. When generating power, the conversion efficiency is crucial in obtaining the maximum energy possible but higher conversion efficiency also comes with higher costs. On the other hand, storage is also an important issue since sunlight is not available at night. There is a number of storage methods: thermal mass systems, rechargeable batteries, and pumped-storage hydroelectricity. Furthermore, the electricity obtained is only viewed economical when it is best utilized, meaning an effective power controller has to be readily in place to maximize electricity distribution. Other limitations include the wide occupation of land and unstable seasonal availability of sunlight.

The future of solar applications will greatly depend on the technological advancement (conversion efficiency and storage method) and the costs at all stages (from raw materials to end user installation). Right now the industry is heavily dependent on the governmental support across continents whether it may be subsidies or regulations. Since energy generated by solar technology is far less than the total energy demand, it is foreseeable that the upside market is enormous. If we can manage to make all driving forces move in the same positive direction, the market is believed to soon start to build on its growth speed and scale.

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