Since the discovery of petroleum in the 1860s, fossil fuels have become the foremost source of energy in the world. For over a century after their inception, their availability was very seldom called into question. The oil crisis of 1973, however, brought this issue to the forefront. With the widespread knowledge that the supply of oil and gas would eventually expire, the public eye has turned toward finding renewable sources of power. Moreover, fossil fuels are amazingly destructive to the environment. The burning of oil for energy creates great amounts of carbon dioxide, which is one of the main reasons why our plant, Earth, is facing Global Warming.

Over the past few decades, scientist and researchers have found three alternative energy sources that are very well known: solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. The main point of support is, of course, that there is an unlimited supply of sun, wind, and water; equally important is that they all produce energy. However, some of them are not as efficient as the other and relies in our environment. Solar energy is always available and it could provide enough energy in one minute to supply the world's energy needs for one year. In one day, it provides more energy than our current population would consume in 27 years. In fact, the amount of solar radiation striking the earth over a three-day period is equivalent to the energy stored in all fossil energy sources. The proper technology to handle and store this solar energy is the key for the future energy of the human society.

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Solar energy is a free, inexhaustible resource, and today the solar power is used as photovoltaic to create electricity. The solar power produces electricity directly without moving parts. Today's photovoltaic system is composed of cells made of silicon, the second most abundant element in the earth's crust. Power is produced when sunlight strikes the semiconductor material and creates an electric current. The smallest unit of the system is a cell. Cells wired together form a module, and modules wired together form a panel. A group of panels is called an array, and several arrays form an array field.

Solar power is just as practical in populated areas connected to the local electrical power grid as it is in remote areas. An average home has more than enough roof area to produce enough solar electricity to supply all of its power needs. With an off inverter, which converts direct current (DC) power from the solar cells to alternating current (AC), which is what most home appliances run on, a solar home can look and operate very much like a home that is connected to a power line. With a grid tie inverter, the DC electricity is still converted to AC and used to power normal appliances and any excess electricity generated can be stored in batteries for later use.

There are several advantages of photovoltaic solar power that make it one of the most promising renewable energy sources in the world. It is non-polluting, has no moving parts that could break down that makes it better that the wind power and hydropower, requires little maintenance and no supervision, and has a life of 20-30 years with low running costs. It is especially unique because no large-scale installation is required. Remote areas can easily produce their own supply of electricity by constructing as small or as large of a system as needed. Solar power generators are simply distributed to homes, schools, or businesses, where their assembly requires no extra development or land area and their function is safe and quiet. As communities grow, more solar energy capacity can be added, thereby allowing power generation to keep in step with growing needs without having to overbuild generation capacity, as is often the case with conventional large-scale power systems. Compare those characteristics to those of coal, oil, gas, or nuclear power, and the choice is easy. Solar energy technologies offer a clean, renewable and domestic energy source.

There are only two primary disadvantages to using solar power: amount of sunlight and cost of equipment. The amount of sunlight a location receives varies greatly depending on geographical location, time of day, season and clouds. The southwestern United States is one of the world's best areas for sunlight. Globally, other areas receiving very high solar intensities include developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

However, a person living in Siberia would not benefit much from this renewable resource. And while solar energy technologies have made huge technological and cost improvements, they are still more expensive than traditional energy sources. However solar equipment will eventually pay for itself in 1 to 3 years depending on how much sun a particular location receives. Then the user will have a virtually free energy source until the end of the equipment's working life.


The best way of lowering the cost of solar energy is by improving the cell's efficiency, so it’s available for everyone. Governments from U.S. must push scientists and researchers in NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and NCPV (National Center of Photovoltaics) to develop and research more and faster about the solar energy and the storage of the energy so we can begin to visualize the day when energy from the sun will be generating a significant portion of the country's electric power demand.

As the price of solar power lowers and that of conventional fuels rises, photovoltaic is going to enter a larger-scale of international growth. So much so, that solar power will remain an excellent energy option, long after the momentary fossil fuel model fades into smoke and the Earth will stay healthy. U.S., as one of the most developed countries, has to step in and encourage the other countries to use the solar energy and also help them in the process of development.


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