Cleaner, brighter air outside…and inside…an affordable gift that could be coming soon to your neighborhood.
As countries everywhere are committing to a “greener” planet, the price of solar energy components is rapidly being driven down. Right now, there are basically two active solar power technologies that are ripe and ready for full harvest…photovoltaic (which converts sunlight directly into electricity) and concentrated solar thermal (uses mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight into a concentrated beam converted into steam to create electricity). In addition, passive solar, created by taking advantage of the sun’s rays with building materials and design, is available everywhere…now.
Lower costs and greater availability of solar energy components will let us get to a clean, pollution-free world sooner rather than later…or not at all.
Taking advantage of the sun’s energy is currently being supplemented by support from federal governments worldwide. Either through direct government building or providing incentives to encourage businesses and individuals to take greater advantage of solar energy techniques that are available today, governments everywhere are beginning not only to see the advantages of using solar, but seizing it.
Solar energy in remote locations…space satellites, roadside emergency phones, isolated buildings, solar powered road signs…are all indications that solar energy is quickly moving forward in these arenas.
Solar powered automobiles are rapidly making their way to the forefront of energy-efficient transportation…in a nick of time. As gas and oil prices rise rapidly, having a solar-powered automobile or hybrid makes more sense to more people every day. This, in turn, of course, gives the necessary incentive to automobile makers to produce more electric and hybrid vehicles.
China is making huge investments in the future of solar energy. In a country replete with vast deserts where solar energy plants are rapidly being constructed, and a huge population to consume this energy, the national energy bureau intends to make China a leading global harvester of solar energy.
Japan, long a leader in solar energy production, is still a large contributor to global solar wattage produced. Domestic production, however, has predominantly gone to domestic demand. Taiwan, Germany and Spain have also been large producers, although Germany and Spain are falling behind with high labor costs keeping production costs for solar energy components high. This has reduced their competitiveness with China and Taiwan, whose labor costs remain low. North America, with high labor costs, has not really been competitive in the world market until recently with new technology and production methods reducing the costs and increasing interest.
The good news from all of this is that the crossover point at which solar comes to parity with other energy options…without government subsidies… is getting closer. With greater demand and world production creating competition, solar energy is becoming a rapidly viable energy option worldwide.
What the world may look like with solar energy is definitely a bright picture. The solar version of driving in the densely populated cities in various locations in the world…New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Cairo…will be significantly different than it is today.
With new materials in solar roofing, the bright, shiny roof tiles, or sparkles that you see on roofs will be solar energy being spread across the rooftops of the world. The exterior walls of our buildings will be more than just walls…they will be solar collectors as well. Some farmers may elect to produce a new crop…solar cell PV cells, or thermal troughs, and previously empty space in deserts and open prairies will be used to capture and store the sun’s energy. Whatever methods work and are used, capturing and putting the sun to work in a solar power system will make this a better place to live.
Imagine driving in any city without smog, being able to see unfiltered sunlight and being able to breath clean air. Using solar energy will allow a stronger, healthier population.
Some of you are in the camp that firmly believes disastrous climate changes are being precipitated by the greenhouse gases created by the burning of fossil fuels. There is no doubt you already believe that the use of solar energy, along with the other renewable energy sources, may help us keep the planet we know today from destruction.
There are those of you who are in the other camp…who want to…or choose to…believe fossil fuel greenhouse gases are not the culprit, or that the climate changes are just a natural, and reversible cycle. There is one fact, however, that cannot be escaped…fossil fuels are not renewable. They are disappearing. How fast is debatable. There is no debate, however, that even if fossil fuels don’t disappear in your lifetime, the next generations will feel the effects of their disappearance. Nor is there debate that prices are going up…and will continue to do so. A scarce resource is an expensive resource.
“We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide.
I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.” Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Edison readily recognized how solar energy will make a better future many, many years ago. It’s time…that the rest of us lit that light bulb as well.