- Renewable & Alternative Energy
Solar Energy, a New Beginning
The current ways we power our world are insufficient, costly and quite harmful to the environment as well as ourselves. Right now the most common way to generate power is through oil. Just getting crude oil to a refinery is dangerous, oil spills are an all to common occurrence. We have all seen the footage of beaches and animals covered in the deadly cargo of oil tankers. Coal isn't any better, with it's noxious fumes and gaping holes it leaves in the Earth. As for nuclear power, well the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Look at Chernobyl or Fukushima for proof of what happens when things go wrong with this option, let alone the minor leaks that happen with alarming regularity.
Sustainable energies offer cleaner ways to power our world. Until recently however, not enough money had been spent to develop these energies very far. More has been done in the last 20 years to improve sustainable energies then in the decades before when they were created. Don't get me wrong, each have their drawbacks, but if these technologies had as much put into them as the current energy sources, we would no longer be using oil, coal or nuclear power.
In my opinion, solar power is the best choice to solve our energy issues. Recent innovations have not only made it cost effective, but also available to just about everyone. Many cities, states and countries offer benefits and incentives for those who use solar. Some countries have even switched from traditional methods of producing energy to solar power.
Solar As We Know It
Solar power has been used by the public since the 1950s, but it wasn't very affective. With very low efficiency, about 1 watt for bright sunlight, solar was used mainly for toys. The Hoffman Electronics Corporation improved the cells from 1954 to 1960 for use on the companies radios. While there was a great demand through the 1950s for solar powered items, they remained quite expensive and largely ineffective.
Solar power's biggest boost came from space. Solar panels were added on the Explorer 6 satellite in 1959, paving the way for continued research and development. Solar power provided a way to power technologies in space for longer than batteries alone. Today almost all spacecraft and satellites are equipped with different forms of solar cells.
A solar array is a collection of solar modules, and is more commonly known as a solar panel. These are used on homes and businesses all over the world. For most when solar energy is mentioned, solar panels are what come to mind. These can be placed directly on the building or on the ground near the structure they are going to supply.
When installed the surplus of energy is stored in batteries, to use when the sun is not out or obscured in some way. If a person has enough panels or learns to live on a limited amount of energy, they may never have a power bill again. To many of us this is a huge incentive, and the main reason most switch over.
After the storage cells are full some solar panels will quit producing, while others will simply shift over to supply the local power grid. Some companies will pay for the excess energy your panels produce, others will not. Either way, if you are a home owner and can afford to purchase and install solar panels, the money you save can very quickly outstrip the money you spent.
Solar Power Plant
Solar power plants, also known as solar parks, solar farms or solar ranches, are a large scale solar array system. These are constructed to produce clean energy to be sold for a profit. The energy produce may be sold directly to the consumer or it may be sold to a big name power provider. When sold to a power provider the price is increased to cover the cost of the original purchase.
While solar power plants produce clean energy, they are not without drawbacks. These require large parcels of land, because of that habitat loss is inevitable. If the placement of these plants isn't carefully planed, a lot of damage could be done. Also, if you are not getting the energy directly from the producer, you will see no difference in your power bill. These reasons coupled with the face that electricity losses power over long distances, makes this option hard to implement.
Solar RoadwaysClick thumbnail to view full-size
Would you like to make the switch to Solar Roadways?
The basic idea is to put solar panels over the top of existing roads and walkways. These have already been designed and developed. They have been tested by a number of independent sources including the Federal Highway Administration. At this point they are on the verge of production.
The panels are made of mostly recycled material, it is hoped that eventually they will be made of 100% recycled materials. They have been built with LED lights to help with traffic issues and to eliminate the need to paint roads. For areas that see a lot of snow and ice, heating units have been added to keep the panels a few degrees above freezing. All in all the couple tried to think of every problem they might encounter and thought of a way to head it off.
They want to start out small: driveways, sidewalks, bike paths and other such areas. Here they expect to hammer out the details and problems that inevitably come with a new product. After everything is worked out to their satisfaction, they want to start putting them on roads. The potential to an idea like this is astounding. If it works, not only will we no longer be dependent on fossil fuels, we could potentially cut pollution in half.
This option is by far my favorite. A couple, Julie and Scott Brusaw, came up with the idea. If their idea is successful, we may reach a point where no one has to pay for energy again. They just finished collecting the necessary funds to mass produce their product without having to go to big companies and potentially lose control over the project. They are leaving the donation option open for another month for anyone else who wants to take part in the creation of this system. If anyone wants any more detail, it can be found at solarroadways.com.
How Do You Rate Solar Energies?
For myself, I have always preferred solar energy to any other. I saw the potential in it to completely change the way we power the world. Out of all the other choices, solar seemed like the most likely to replace fossil fuels as a primary source of energy. I am absolutely thrilled that people are moving more and more to green energies, a shift is happening, a shift for the better. I can't wait to see what comes of it.
© 2014 Katrina