A truly unique and clean way to generate electricity, solar power comes with a nearly limitless source nearby. Capable of providing all the electrical power needed on the planet, solar energy has not yet achieved the popularity it deserves due to the expense of producing photovoltaic cells and the availability of inexpensive fossil fuels. With fossil fuels becoming more difficult to extract and their suspected role in global warming, there has been a resurgence in interest in both solar and wind power.
Sunlight can be converted into electricity using either photovoltaic cells or by concentrating solar power indirectly. Initial installation costs have come down in recent years and have made solar energy more viable for individuals and power companies. Additionally, because of the somewhat erratic nature of sunlight, any solar system needs to be coupled with either storage or another way to produce electricity. Still, with a growing need for electricity world wide, solar power is an important part of the general equation.
Part of the reason that solar power hasn’t become a major source of electricity is that the industry has yet to standardize. There are more than a dozen different types of photovoltaic cells available, making it difficult to determine which will become the industry standard. And while solar power is endlessly renewable, you have to pay your costs up front, making it difficult for many to afford.
As is typical for alternative fuel sources, it is likely to take government initiative for solar power to take off and become financially viable. Concentrated solar power plants began to appear in the 1980s but have been slow to take off due to costs and the quantity of land required for installation. It is estimated that converting just 4% of the world’s deserts to photovoltaic farms would generate enough electricity to power the entire planet. With so much energy just pouring down upon us daily, it makes good sense to develop the needed technology as quickly as possible.