This paper will focus exclusively on solar energy as an effective improvement process. The research presented in this paper will examine the issue on hand and reveal the impact it has on companies across the globe. A history of solar power will be discussed as well as the primary types of solar energy that are used today. This paper will also address the cost advantages solar energy provides along with the environmental enhancements and energy reductions that are associated with solar power. In conclusion, this paper will analyze the future of solar power in regards to business and the long term effects this process will have on the world as a whole.
Solar energy is an effective improvement process that helps companies save money, reduce their energy output and enhance the environment. The development of solar energy dates back to 400 B.C. when the Greeks built their houses on the side of hills to harness the suns heat. “Native Americans and the ancient Greek built their houses into the side of hills to take advantage of the heat storage from the sun during the day that would then be released during the night.”(historyofsolarpower.com) The Romans also made use of the sun as a natural source of energy by using glass windows to trap the warmth of the sun in their homes and creating the right conditions to grow plants. Even though many previous civilizations enjoyed the advantages of solar power in a variety of ways, it wasn’t until 1776 that the first solar collector was built. “This collector was built by a gentleman named Horace de Saussare. His collector was cone shaped and would boil ammonia that would then perform like refrigeration and locomotion.”(historyofsolarpower.com) Saussare’s solar collector, which generated a great deal of interest during the 19th century, was the first significant advancement in solar energy. Intrigued by the ability to collect and harness solar power and use it for energy, Auguste Mouchout created a steam engine that was powered only by solar energy in 1861.
Although the stream engine excited many during this time period, it never made a true impact and was quickly forgotten about because of the extreme cost it took to run the train. “While the solar powered steam engine wasn’t viable in 1861 this did not stop the efforts of many who knew that solar power could be harnessed and used in many different ways.”(historyofsolarpower.com) The 1880s saw the development of the first light converting photovoltaic cells and in 1891, twenty years after the failed experiment with the steam engine, the first commercial solar water heater was patented by Clarence Kemp. Solar power remained relatively dormant for several decades until the U.S. oil embargo in 1970. The United States Department of Energy used the embargo as an opportunity to utilize solar power by implanting the Federal Photovoltaic Utilization Program, which was responsible for the installation and testing of over 3,000 photovoltaic systems. The Gulf War in the 1990s brought even more interest to solar power when people started to question America’s dependency on foreign countries for resources such as gas and petroleum.
Today solar energy consists of two primary forms and is helping companies across the globe become more self sufficient and less dependent on fossil fuels. These devices use different aspects of nature such as sunlight to produce natural energy which can be converted to provide adequate electricity to office buildings and help run various types of machinery. “There are several ways to use the sun’s power to generate electricity. One of the most promising is called concentrating solar power. This involves using mirrors to reflect and focus the sun’s rays, providing heat, which in turn helps power a generator.”(nytimes.com) Concentrated solar power indirectly converts sunlight into electricity using mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated sunlight is then turned in a heat source which can be used for power generation or energy storage. Concentrated solar power, which works best under clear skies, exist in four common forms: HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parabolic_trough" parabolic trough, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dish_stirling" \o "Dish stirling" dish stirlings, HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Linear_Fresnel_Reflector" \o "Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector" concentrating linear fresnel reflector, and HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_tower" solar power tower. The second type of solar power that is used today is the photovoltaic format, which is known by many as solar panels. A solar panel is a collection of solar cells that work together to convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels can be used by themselves or combined with other forms of renewable energy such as wind turbines. “Photovoltaic solar power is one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the world. Compared to nonrenewable sources such as coal, gas, oil, and nuclear, the advantages are clear: it's totally non-polluting, has no moving parts to break down, and does not require much maintenance.”(solarexpert.com)
Even though solar energy possesses more advantages than nonrenewable sources, it accounts for only one percent of the electricity use in America. Many adversaries of solar energy tend to focus on the cost of producing energy from solar panels. Although generating power from solar panels is currently expensive to produce, costs are beginning to decline. After the initial investment fee, savings are immediate. Unlike traditional forms of energy, the fuel cost for solar energy is nonexistent and it is not affected by the price of gasoline. Companies can even sell energy to their utility company if their system produces more energy than they needed for that month. Another advantage company’s gain when implementing a solar system is the reduction in energy output. Solar panels decrease the need for electricity by storing the natural energy gained from the sun. The final and most important benefit that companies receive when using a solar system is the enhancements that solar power provides the environment. Renewable energies sources such as solar panels are much safe for the environment. Unlike fossil fuels, which have caused widespread problems, solar power is clean and sustainable. Solar energy does not contribute to global warming or pollute air. “To combat global warming and the other problems associated with fossil fuels, the United States must switch to renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind, and biomass.”(uscusa.org) Solar energy is the alternative needed to combat the problems nonrenewable energies have generated over the years. Many companies are beginning to realize that “going green” is the solution to their energy needs and are leading the way into a cleaner, cost effective future.
Solar power is an important improvement process that has existed for several generations. Solar panels along with other renewable energy sources are changing the way companies fill their energy needs. Slowly but surely more and more people are turning to energy obtained through nature instead of using costly fossil fuels. Solar energy helps companies in a variety of ways and will continue to do so as technology continues to improve. “The sun always has been, and always will be, a tremendous source of power, which leaves no question that with the improvement of technology, our ability to harness this power will only become greater and more widespread in its use.”(historyofsolarpower.com) Solar power is without a doubt the energy of the future.
Bower, M. (1992). Environmental impacts of renewable energy technologies. Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org History of solar power. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.solarexpert.com History of solar power. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.historyofsolarpower.com Solar energy. (2011). Retrieved from HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com" http://www.nytimes.com