Saturday, July 14, 2012

Money Talks and Solar Walks in Our Quest For Cheap Alternative Energy

Solar energy or power is the focus of the search for cheap alternative energy as we try to reduce our dependence on, and reduce the effects of, fossil fuels. Using solar power as a means of creating a cheaper alternative to our current energy sources is based upon the following principles.

1. Unlike our finite resources of fossil fuels, solar energy is an infinite and renewable energy source.
2. There are no harmful emissions.
3. The harnessing of solar energy greatly reduces the very significant usage of water that is typical of using coal, nuclear and combined energy sources.
4. After the initial expenditure involved with the installation of a solar powered source of energy, plus some maintenance costs, it is to all intents and purposes free.

Advocates of using solar energy have always faced two major difficulties with promoting this possible form of cheap alternative energy. Currently it is not in real terms a cheap alternative. Inefficiencies and the expenditure involved in the initial set up costs means that solar energy is still viewed by the majority as a fringe source of energy.

However great strides have been made in the search for greater efficiencies in the use of solar power. Recently a group of U.S. scientists set a world record in solar cell efficiency by transforming almost 41% of captured light into energy.

Whilst this is obviously good news in the long term it is not enough to see solar power gain worldwide acceptance as being a viable alternative energy source. The determining factor as always will be costs. Until the stage is reached where this form of energy is accessible to the majority of people it is never going to be an alternative energy let alone our main source.

It all boils down to finances and in a world of financial turmoil it is nearly always research and development that feels the swiftest and sharpest financial cutbacks. Research and development is the only way that solar energy is ever going to reach the stage that it is available to the masses. The masses will only be able to avail of it if it is a cheap alternative.

This is the vicious circle that solar energy and its proponents are caught in. Until the stage is reached where we achieve greater efficiencies in the use of this energy and the production of the units' solar power will not be a cheap alternative.
In recent times of economic boom the emphasis shifted from looking at cheap alternatives and fossil fuels strengthened their position of dominance. If sufficient strides and financing did not occur during times of prosperity it is highly unlikely to occur during an economic slump.

Local and national support for promoting solar energy as a cheap alternative energy source is unlikely to be enough to see this idea lighting up our world. If this form of energy is ever going to reach the stage of being a cheap alternative it needs worldwide collaboration and a long term strategy. Have we seen the light?

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