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Solar energy research in United States

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Solar cells. Solar energy is the most abundant form of energy on our planet, and world should be definitely using much more solar energy to satisfy its ever-growing hunger for energy. This however is still not possible because solar energy technologies are still too expensive, and also lack adequate efficiency to compete with fossil fuels. The one thing that can overcome these solar energy drawbacks is advanced solar energy research. Many energy experts will agree that the thing that solar energy sector desperately needs are cheap and highly efficient solar panels and solar cells, and finding solution for this is the holy grail of all solar energy researches.

US is also seeking for new scientific solutions to make solar energy more competitive to other energy sources and the latest proof to this is the fact that The Department of Energy will provide $122 million over five years for advanced solar energy research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will focus on studying artificial photosynthesis - methods of generating energy from the sun the same way plants do. If science could emulate plants in creating energy from the Sun then this would really mean a breakthrough on global energy scale that would reduce dependence on oil, and also improve energy security for years to come. The ultimate goal of this research would be a commercialization of artificial photosynthesis, something that for now looks only good in theory.

Solar energy industry has welcomed this move, especially since US has so far invested significantly less in alternative energy research compared to China and EU. Perhaps with more investment US solar energy sector will become more powerful and much more competitive on global scale when China currently leads the way.

Solar nanotechnology – Oregon shows the way to go

Solar power technologies are becoming increasingly popular across the United States, and Oregon looks set to become nation's leader as The Beaver State is hosting a production plant that will be the first to produce thin-film printable solar power technology. This news was announced by Photovoltaic company Solexant Corp, and they also said that they would set this plant in Gresham. Once this production plant becomes operational it will not only become first thin film solar manufacture facility in United States, but in entire world.

Solar cells made from nanotechnology.
Solar cells made from nanotechnology.

This company has developed a new printable nanocrystal technology that uses special inks to produce thin-film solar cells, and if everything goes well production in Gresham will start in 2011. It has to be said here that many energy experts believe how solar nanotechnology is the key in making solar power more economically viable energy option. Solar nanotechnology even has the potential to create perfectly efficient solar panels that would capture all the available sunlight and turn it into useful form of energy.

Many scientific experiments have showed the benefits of using solar nanotechnology, perhaps the best example are new coatings for solar panels that are made of nanorods which allow the solar panel to absorb light from any angle, making it more efficient. Of course, this technology still has a long way to become commercial but current progress is more than obvious, and it is definitely good to see that United States is doing the right moves to become one of the leaders in this very promising technology.

Conclusion

Some research have showed great potential in delivering this holy grail of solar power technology but none of these solutions is yet ready to be used on commercial scale so solar power has a long way to go before being competitive enough to challenge fossil fuels as the world's top energy source. United States is well behind China when it comes to manufacturing solar power technologies but the situation with solar energy is not as hopeless as some imply it is. Solar energy is not only popular energy source in California, and there are many other states that want to jump in the solar energy bandwagon such as Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and many others.

The most important thing is that US legislation continues its support for solar energy with tax incentives because this is currently the only way solar energy can attract investors. Without the incentives solar energy would lose much of its appeal because potential investors would look elsewhere to get the best possible deal. Solar energy industry is still standing on shaky legs but this will certainly change in years to come with the emergence of new solar power technologies. Solar energy just needs a bit more time and of course a bit more money.

 
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