In the future, will solar energy be the main source of our power?
I realize that current solar panels are not that efficient. However, is it possible that they will eventually (in 20-30 years) be efficient enough to provide most of America's energy needs (75% or more)? The reason why I ask is that I once saw an TV interview in which some researcher from MIT was questioned about solar panels. He basically said that solar panel efficiency will double every two years.
Is this true? If possible, could you please cite an article or a reliable source?
- RudydooLv 61 decade agoFavorite Answer
Hey Forsight, good question. Baypoint is quite right on the various energy sources. I agree with his assessment that solar will not be the main player in grid electricity in the years to come, but for different reasons. In the United States alone, grid electricity generates over 100 billion dollars in revenue each year. I am a bid advocate of solar power, but what is more important to me is that as we move away from a fossil based energy economy, we move into something more diverse. Lots of people think solar is the answer, or wind, or nuclear. I believe all these things are the answer, and I would be excited to see solar get 10% of that 100 billion dollars in 15 years. Solar has two main advantages over traditional energy sources. The first is obvious, the fuel is free. The second is that solar energy is spread out pretty evenly over the middle half of our globe, so people in New Delhi can get as much power from a small solar array as people in New York, and you don't need to run a wire between them to do it. But it's important to note that wind is a fantastic compliment to solar, in most places where the sun is limited, such as the midwest in the winter, the artic and cloudy coastal areas such as the Pacific Northwest, wind resources are generally good. Seasonally, many places that have limited solar power during one season, such as winter, have their greatest average wind speeds during the same season. Geothermal is also a great energy source if it is used properly, but again, it is more readily available in Iceland than it is in Lakeland, Florida. So the key to utilizing our abundant renewable energy sources is to use them all in moderation and not concentrate on one source at the expense of another, and our planet.
Ten years ago we embarked on a project to convert our home over to wind and solar power. It's been very interesting, we made plenty of mistakes, and we learned a great deal. People ask me if I had it to do over again, would I bother. My answer is, "If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have brought in the utility company 20 years ago in the first place." It isn't because I don't like the grid, or the utility company, they have been pretty reliable over the years. But in the first 10 years after our home was built, we used over 60,000 kilowatthours of electricity. In the next 10 years, we used less than 8,000. If I had taken the money I spent on those 68,000 units and put it into a solar and wind system in the first place, I would have paid for it by now.
Most people involved in renewable energy feel this way as well, our energy source should be as diverse as our people, but you don't have to take my word for it, here are some good resources if you're interested in learning more. Take care, RudydooSource(s): Home Power Magazine Backwoods Home Magazine American Wind Energy Association Solar Energy International Midwest Renewable Energy Association Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association
- 4 years ago
I think there's some confusion about what "power" means. What does she think is going to power computers in the future? Light? But what powers the light? Electricity! (actually, optical computers have been in development for decades.) Now, how will we generate the electricity may change. Currently most of our electricity comes from burning stuff - oil, natural gas, coal. The heat turns water in pipes into steam, the steam turns turbines, turbines generate electricity. On a separate note, computer technology moves so fast, that in 10 years, your games and the hardware that runs them will seem quaint and antiquated. You won't believe you used to put up with such horrible graphics.
- 1 decade ago
No, I don't think so. Windmills and Geothermal heat have vast unmeasured potentionl. It may be they will each provide about a third of all the world energy needs.
Barge mounted Windmills are already being tested, the ocean anchor details are being developed, most nations have access to the oceans. This source will become very big, very soon.
Use of the electricity to produce Hydrogen, by electrolysis, will greatly increase its use. All nations will want to participate.
Geothermal has one danger, in Colorado and Russia they found that extracting steam, in a few sites, led to earthquakes. In time, they will learn to identify the danger and drill holes in stable plates.
Solar is growing rapidly with the use of thousands of mirrors to focus on an elevated boiler. They are now very big and rapidly growing in the Mojave Desert. Like weeds? Bad pun!.
A desalination plant driven by solar thermal units is a natural. It will solve California water problems.Source(s): Internet and newspapers
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- Anonymous1 decade ago
I hope so