When it comes to solar energy of the future, we are going to have to start thinking outside the box. In fact, we are going to have to forget that there ever was a box at all.
What we are used to seeing today, such things as roofs adorned with rectangular solar panels, or small garden solar lights, solar powered handbags and so on – all these things will become museum pieces.
Put on your thinking cap of the future and dream along with me for a few minutes while we sort out the world’s energy problems.
We have become so used to having unlimited energy at our beck and call, that the first thing we will have to fix is our attitude. With the current energy systems that we use, continuing on the present path is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. Not only environmentally, but financially as well.
We seem to have some particular need to drive 300 h.p. vehicles. Why? Most cars could reach any posted speed limit with 20 h.p., so why the need for such excess. Don’t believe me? Do you remember the old VW of years ago? It had a 36 h.p. engine and could easily exceed any posted speed limit of today. No, I’m not selling old VW’s, but if it could be done 50 years ago, why could it not be done far more efficiently today?
The one thing we must not forget is this…every time we consume 1 gallon of gasoline, there will be one less gallon available for future use. We may find in future that gasoline will have a more beneficial use to us than moving a 3,500 lb car around with a single occupant. In fact, would you not think that future governments might ban such an activity? Think about that for a minute. What would you do if that happened?
In case you think that is out of the question, consider what has already been done with H.O.V. (high occupancy vehicle) lanes for the past couple of decades. The only single occupant vehicles (S.O.V.) which will be allowed will need to be powered by alternative energy. Is that really so bad? No, of course it isn’t. In fact, we need to get behind anyone and everyone who is working in this direction.
There are plans afoot for several electric vehicles. All of these use present technology, and most can deliver a mileage cost compared to gasoline powered cars at about 75 cents per gallon. Depending on where you are gasoline may run anywhere between $2.50 and $4.50 a gallon (more in Europe) so the electric vehicle will have a considerably lower fuel cost. This cost is based on current utility prices (2009) being used to re-charge the electric vehicle’s batteries.
The future will see not only electric vehicles in abundance, but they will be lighter, have better batteries for energy storage, and will be re-charged at home with personal solar power re-charging stations. All these things will go a long way toward reducing our carbon footprint, which, in case you have forgotten, is one of the primary reasons for getting away from fossil fuels in the first place.
And how about this for an idea, every exterior surface on the car would use some sort of energy absorbing material which would convert sunlight into usable power. So, while you are sitting in your favorite coffee shop, your car is being re-charged courtesy of the sun.
And no matter what store or mall you went to, a plug in would be available to charge your car while you were shopping. For free yet, no charge!
In case that sounds implausible, let’s figure out why that would be really good for business. Can you imagine one mall offering free plug-ins and the next not? Where would you shop? Yes, that’s right, your “fuel” to get home again would tip the scale in favor of the forward thinking mall. Not only that, there would be pride of place parking spots for electric cars, right in front of the store. Gas powered cars would be relegated to the back rows.
And where would this power come from? Why, the roof of the mall itself, which would be covered with the solar panel of the future. And for those windy days, pop-up mini wind turbines would rise up into the wind to capture extra kilowatts. Store windows will have embedded solar capacity right in the glass. Building materials used for cladding exteriors will have solar coverings, adding yet more energy to the mix. The very parking lots themselves will generate electricity. The list surely is endless.
When the day arrives that big cities adopt a more futuristic approach to street parking, what do you suppose might happen? You arrive downtown and wish to park your electric car. Your chosen parking space has an electric plug in for your car, there is no charge for this. Not only that, but the parking itself is free! Never happen you say? Not so…it already is in London, England.
Do you play golf? Do you drive a golf cart? Where does it get re-charged? See if you can get your golf club to install a solar powered charging system. Everything that we remove from grid power is another step in the right direction.
None of these things will happen on their own. We all need to take stock of our present energy “load” and see what we can do to switch from fossil fuel to sun power. See what you can come up with on your own that can be powered by the sun. An electric lawn mower perhaps? You can get some help with generating electricity from the sun by visiting here.