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Solar Power

By:   •  November 28, 2016  •  Research Paper  •  1,327 Words (6 Pages)  •  435 Views

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Solar Power

Jake Clark

Mate 359

Professor Harding

November 7th, 2016

In the future we will run out of fossil fuels, its inevitable. Alternative and renewable energies are the way of the future and is something that is, and needs to continue to be put into affect and seen as a priority over fossil fuels. The alternate power source I’m going to be talking about is solar energy. I believe that solar energy is the best source of alternate energy. We rely on the sun to survive and grow our agriculture, why not further rely on the sun to power our society. If you have ever seen solar panels, you can see that they power everything from satellites, to houses, and even calculators and watches. It’s so versatile in its abilities to power the things around us and the things we use every day and materials used in this process are not very complex and very simple to implement.

When we talk about solar energy and how exactly solar energy happens, we have to directly address the materials used in this process and how these materials work to convert sunlight into energy. What make up a solar panel are solar cells. They are also known as photovoltaic cells. These cells take photons and directly convert them to voltage, this is known as the PV effect ("Solar Photovoltaic Technology Basics." National Renewable Energy Laboratory). Observing that the silicon element in sand was actually creating an electrical charge when exposed to sunlight discovered the PV affect. Silicon is a very abundant material on the planet. Pure silicon is mixed with other elements that increase its conductivity and is a vital material in solar energy. This is what traditional solar cells are made out of and have seen to be the most affective; they can last up to 25 years. Now when we take a look at second-generation solar panels we see that they are made out of amorphous silicon and also a material called cadmium telluride ("Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics." Energy.gov. US Department of Energy, 16 Aug. 2013). Amorphous silicon is a non-crystalline form of silicon and has 40 times the light absorptivity of singe crystalline silicon. These together help form what are known as thin film solar cells ("Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics." Energy.gov. US Department of Energy, 16 Aug. 2013). They are only a few micrometers thick and can be used on glass, plastic, and metal. Since they can be applied to so many surfaces, they can be used a variety of helpful ways to promote alternate power and can be applied to more things in our every day lives. You can apply this technology to shingles of a house, tile, and even on the outside of the windows, and it will continue to produce renewable and alternate power, they are also not very expensive to create and require very little energy to create. Although not as powerful and efficient as conventional solar cells, we have seen a lot of growth in recent years and they continue to be of very low cost and are environmentally friendly. The solar energy and materials that I believe are most interesting are what are being called third generational solar cells. These include a very big variety of materials that stray away from silicon, which include solar inks, solar dyes, and even conductive plastic.  Inkjet solar cells work by dissolving Cu, Zn, Sn metal salt and thiourea in dimethyl sulfoxide solvent. ("Solar Photovoltaic Cell Basics." Energy.gov. US Department of Energy, 16 Aug. 2013). The best advantages to inkjet solar cells are that they are very low toxic and have very low wasted materials; they can also be produced on an industrial scale. One of the biggest challenges of solar power is that silicon can make up a huge amount of the cost of solar cells and implementing this would directly help reduce the price of solar power. Conductive plastics which are also being called radical polymers are up and coming and could create low cost transparent solar cells that are also light weight and could be used in many useful applications including aircraft and consumer electronics (Hamilton, James. "Green Revolution: Solar Power." SciVee (2011). The biggest application of this technology, I believe is endless, plastic is produced at an unbelievable level and if we are able to produce this same plastic but have it conduct and produce electricity, then it could have a huge low cost impact on our lives. I think one of the biggest challenges people have with solar power is the cost for a normal person to pay to be able to have this energy impact their daily lives and homes. So any technology that seems to be cheaper is a huge step forward in solar power. People also need to be aware that once you implement solar power into your lives you can save thousand of dollars in electricity every year, with simple household designs you can both save money and save the environment at the same time.

Solar power is clean renewable energy that will not run out.  The sun is not going anywhere anytime soon and will always be consistent. There will always be a night and day. It is an extremely reliable source of energy, you just have to implement the materials that have been used to harness this energy and you will have an alternate power source that will last your whole life. Natural fossil fuels will eventually run out but you cannot say that about solar energy. Solar panels are a very simple technology put together by simple materials and are constantly being improved. The economic value of solar power cannot be over looked. The sun is free to everyone in society, once you utilize solar panels at your home, you will not need to pay that 100-dollar plus electric bill. The utilization of solar power truly makes your home independent on the basis of energy and no longer dependent on fossil fuels, which are proven to not be reliable in light that they will be gone one day. I believe solar power is a no brainer, why not utilize the sun to the best of our abilities and take advantage of the technology that allows us to do so. Solar energy also creates a lot more jobs then fossil fuels and natural gas does, up to three times more (Hamilton, James. "Green Revolution: Solar Power." SciVee (2011). Careers in solar energy are seen in the areas of science, engineering, manufacturing, construction, and installation. We can see the local results of this here in San Luis Obispo county, for it is home to the Topaz solar farm, which creates 550 megawatts and can power 160,000 homes and has up to 417 million in sales and property tax revenues, direct and indirect wages, and induced spending and supply chain revenues ("Topaz Solar Farm." Vertically Integrated Utility-Scale PV Power Solutions Provider).

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