The solar panel industry has been showing remarkable progress recently, as it continues to boom despite the challenges and setbacks of the early 2000s. Many US-based solar panel companies faced economic hardships due to subsidy cuts, cheaper natural gas, the falling of MAC Global Solar Energy Index and a flood of Chinese solar panel imports. Dozens of solar companies were forced to shut down, changed hands, or declare bankruptcy. But things are improving now; the future of the solar power industry is looking brighter.
Solar Power and the energy market
The solar power industry today has revolutionized the way people think about solar power. There have been record amounts of new solar capacity installed in the past two years. There is a downward trend of module prices and an accelerating pace of adopting solar panels as power sources which is being implemented as distributed generation, installed at the point of use, rather than sold into the power grid.
Solar panels are bound to have a bigger impact on the energy market of the future. According to Estel M. of The Environmental Blog, “the solar power industry is poised to assume a bigger role in global energy markets.”
Solar panels are not only cost competitive today, but they are also thought to be the answer to the energy crisis of the future. Solar energy is cleaner, reusable, and abundant. It is also becoming one of the most economically viable sources of energy. The sharply declining price of solar panels is an indication that “the economics of solar power are improving.”
Elias Hinckley writes in his article, titled:“The Solar Energy Industry is Red Hot – Will it Get Hotter?” at The Energy Collective website, that “Solar has reached and eclipsed price parity with traditional fuel sources in some markets, and ultimately the potential market for solar PV is huge. A solar module costs approximately 1% of what it did 35 years ago”.
Breakthroughs in the solar industry
The solar panel industry is constantly improving the way it is generating and supplying energy. The industry is providing a more powerful, safer,cleaner and cheaper source of energy, which is also reusable and environmentally friendly. Researchers also believe that the next generation of solar panels will overcome most of the serious limitations that the solar panel industries are facing today. One of the innovations that scientists have been talking about recently is eliminating the use of toxic cadmium chloride in solar cells; the latest technology in solar panels have found a way to use magnesium chloride, an abundant salt found in seawater, instead.
Jon Major of the University of Liverpool believes that “it’s going to make a big change to the costs of these devices. The cost of solar is going to match fossil fuels eventually but this is going to get us there quicker.”
Energy from solar steam
You already know that sunshine has a strong evaporating power. Watch a road after a rainstorm on a sunny day and you can see the road steaming. Using the sun’s heat to evaporate water to create steam is a far older technology than generating electricity directly from photocells, but scientists are doing just that. (Solar energy: Picking up steam | The Economist)
Scientists are now using the sun’s heat to create powerful, pressurized steam. Energy from solar steam is one of the latest breakthroughs in solar power generation; a breakthrough that could replace fossil fuels in the most advanced power stations in the world, says Energy Matters. The latest solar power technology is going to bring the steam back into the steam engines. Scientists are now using solar power for adding enough heat into water to create pressurized steam, which is then used to drive electric turbines in large-scale power plants.
According to research by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), scientists broke the world record in super heating water and turning it into pressurized steam. (Energy Matters.)
Graphite ‘solar sponge’
A report from Hadi Ghasemi, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), states that they have created a cheap new material that converts sunlight into steam with 85% efficiency. MIT also believes that this could open up new possibilities in the areas of concentrated solar thermal power generation. (Extreme Tech)
Solar power technology is turning out to be a significant source for clean and reusable energy generation and a promising resource that could replace fossils in the future.The technology for turning solar energy into electrical energy is now becoming more economically viable. With more research, scientists will be able to use the sun’s energy in many different ways and accomplish other tasks with it, not just generate electricity directly. Imagine the impact these innovations in solar energy will have on our economy and the future of renewable energy sources!
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Source: Institute of Ecolonomics