SOLAR POWER IN TODAYS WORLD
JEROME T. GARDNER
COLUMBIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
Since first discovered in the 1860s, the concept of storing energy from the sun to use as a source of power has been studied and pursued by many programs. Either using solar collectors or photovoltaic cells, the methods of using solar power are becoming more efficient and cost-effective. Solar technology is currently being used by homes and businesses, but is still too expensive and risky for many residents. Researchers are still making advances to solar technology for it to be a feasible energy source in the future. The growth of energy demands is exploding. Many of the energy sources that supply society with power currently run on non-renewable resources such as oil and coal. These resources also pollute our environment. Other resources such as hydro and wind power are not as reliable as they fluctuate in availability due to environmental conditions. It is important to investigate alternative resources of energy as the current forms and output will not sustain the world at the current increase in societal demands. One viable and almost unlimited source of energy is the sun. Solar panels make use of the sun’s light hitting earth every day and convert it to a usable form of energy and have the potential to fulfill the world’s energy needs.
Since the beginning of the war against environmental contamination, it has been the job of engineers to come up with solutions to this problem. Waste management regulations, material recycling and recursion to renewable energy resources have been some of the many brilliant ideas engineers have emerged with to take control of the situation. Of these three, the use of renewable energy resources has meant to be the most complicated of the solutions to repair the damage done to nature. The generation of energy has always been of concern to humanity and so it demands to be studied rigorously. Here is when questions about solar radiation appear over the table of many scientists. With all of its mysteries and power, the sun has shown its potential to be a reliable source of renewable energy. The question is: how can engineers take advantage of the energy that comes from the sun? In order to wisely exploit solar energy, engineers must execute precise arrangements in solar energy systems. Primarily, engineers should be able to identify what kind of solar configuration is the best for harnessing solar energy. First, engineers must explore what advantages each solar energy system can provide. This step is crucial for understanding the potential of sunlight in the renewable energy world. Most researchers in the field of renewable energy name, at least, two fundamental types of solar energy system configurations: flat-plates and concentrators. In their works, these researchers describe each type of configuration as equally suitable to convert solar radiation; nevertheless, they encourage the use of flat-plates for photovoltaic conversions and concentrator for solar-thermal affinities. The reason for this conclusion is because flat-plates can generate power from either direct sunlight or diffuse sunlight reflected from clouds, the
ground and other objects, and concentrators are able to increase the intensity of the sunlight striking the cells. Knowing the capabilities of each type of solar energy configuration increases the possibilities to achieve bigger performance in solar energy systems, so this kind of technology can be taken as serious and reliable. Second, engineers must decide what solar configuration fulfills the necessities of the users. Setting up solar energy generators is not even half of the work; knowing what solar energy configuration suits the necessities of the user is the best way to start. Two common problems engineers face when installing solar energy systems are the area problem and the weather problem, which can worsen the processes of modernization of...
References: 1) Crabtree, George W. and Lewis, Nathan S. (2008) Solar energy conversion. In: Physics of sustainable energy, using energy efficiently and producing it renewably.
2) Nebel & Wright, Environmental Science: The Way the World Works, Prentice Hall
3) Summary of the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation Certified Solar Collector and Water Heating System Ratings, July 2002 http://www.solar-rating.org/summary/dirsum_20020730.pdf
4) Michael Neary, Arizona Public Policy—Solar Energy and Renewable Energy, 10/20/02, http://www.state.hi.us/dbedt/ert/symposium/neary/neary.html
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