Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wedge Strategy: Increasing Solar Power for Electricity

Solar power is a renewable and environmentally clean source of energy.
It is abundant and somewhat predictable.
Technologies for solar power are easy to install and use.
Solar energy could be a good solution for many developing countries with lots of sun.
-Passive solar energy (through use of strategies including insulation, window design, and landscape elements) can be used to conserve energy or increase energy efficiency.
-Active solar energy uses PV panels or thermal heat to harness energy for storage or converting it to other applications, like electricity.
-PV cells are modular peices that make up a panel. The panel consists of two layers of a superconducting material (usually silicon) under a layer of glass. The energy from photons collected from the sun makes electrons from the top (positive) layer move to the lower (negative) layer, allowing the electrical current to be collected in the panel.
-Thin film technology now makes building facades and other surfaces into solar collectors, taking up less space than in the past.
-Solar energy is an intermittent energy source- the energy must be stored if there is no sunlight. It is also expensive, but prices are dropping. It could be used successfully along with wind energy, with solar energy being used in the sunniest times of year and wind energy being optimized in the winter and months with less sun.
-A wedge worth of PV cells would require arrays with the combined area size of New Jersey.

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