Solar Power

The ideal atomic reactor makes human life on this planet possible.  It is located a perfect distance from us---93 million miles.   And it provides all the energy we could ever need to power our advancing civilization.

In the new millennium, this safe, clean and free solar power is at the heart of an epic revolution in green-powered technology. 

The solar breakthroughs getting the most press are in photovoltaic cells (PV).  These silicon-based collectors convert sunlight directly to electric current.  The basic science has been known since the mid 1800s.  The first cells were built at Bell Labs in the early 1950s, and went up in space on the Vanguard satellite. 

The very first prototype travels around to solar conventions, and still generates electricity.  There's yet to be established a theoretical limit for how long these cells can go before they stop producing power.

The uses of PV have been exploding, from space satellites to watches and calculators, to remote telephone systems and buoys at sea.  But now millions of them are being installed on rooftops around the world, pumping electric current directly into the buildings on which they're mounted.   This is a huge development, as it eliminates the need for long-distance transmission, through which a very substantial share of the electricity produced by fossil and nuclear fuels is lost.

Breakthroughs in amorphous (disordered) silicon have also made it possible to mass-produce flexible electric-generating roofing shingles that can be easily applied virtually anywhere.  Advanced PV features are even being integrated into window glass and paint.   Inevitably, vehicles ranging from cars and trucks to trains and planes will soon be embedded with PV generating systems as well. 

In the long-term, billions of PV units will be installed worldwide, in what will become one of history's most expansive industries. 

Desert-based power towers and concave (LUZ) collector units are also part of the revolution.

The power towers are generators mounted atop tall towers which are surrounded by mirror arrays.  The mirrors track the sun from dawn to dusk, shining intense rays onto a generator perched high in the sky.  The intense natural heat is converted by liquid carriers into usable power for turning turbines and generating electricity

A similar process has been successfully applied in the Mojave Desert since the early 1980s by concave mirror arrays that focus sunlight on tubes that carry heat-exchanging liquids to turbine arrays.  Pioneered by the Israeli LUZ company, these units are proven, profitable and being rapidly expanded.

Solar architecture also has a huge role to play.  More than two thousand years ago the Greeks faced their homes to the south to capture the sun's winter rays.  But their carefully deployed overhanging roofs shaded those rays in summer.  Planting hardwood trees on the south offers further cooling, as the summer's leaves shade the home.  Planting softwood trees to the north adds summer cooling, but blocks cold winds in winter.

Solar water heating has also been a long-time player.   In the 1920s, tens of thousands of homes were built in Florida with simple units that provided a home with all the hot water it could use.  Those were killed off by a utility industry intense on profiting from natural gas.

In the 1970s Jimmy Carter installed highly efficient solar water heating on the White House, only to have the units removed, with no explanation, by Ronald Reagan.

Today, millions of PV units, solar water heaters and other solar features are being installed worldwide. Prices are high due not to manufacturing costs, but because production simply cannot keep up with demand.

Indeed, the key to a hugely successful solar future lies in making sure our precious capital is not wasted on the failed nuclear experiment.  These PV and other solar technologies are proven, powerful, and plummeting in price.  Their future inproducing safe, clean, terror-free power is limited only by how much more money we waste on failed fossil/nuke technologies.


American Solar Energy Society

Solar Energy Industry Association

Solar Nation

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