Harnessing the Sun with Solar Power

In This Chapter

^ Turning light to energy

^ Battling the challenges to and economics of widespread solar power use ^ Looking through present and future solar power options

7he sun sends over 35,000 times more energy to earth than humans use in all of their energy consumption endeavors. To put it another way, people use less energy in 27 years than the earth receives from the sun in a single day. That's a lot of solar energy — for all practical purposes it's an infinite supply, and renewable to boot. Best of all, it's the cleanest source of energy the world has ever known. The problem, of course, is turning all those free-for-all photons into useable energy, or ordered, energy. While humankind has been inventing creative ways to do just that for thousands of years, solar still affords a very limited applicability in the grand scheme of things. Only 0.03 percent of the world's ordered energy production comes from solar, and even though the industry is growing by over 33 percent per year, there's a long road ahead.

When solar works well — when the conditions for harvesting sunlight into ordered energy are optimal — it's one of the best alternative energy sources. Solar's effectiveness in the grand scheme of things is not doubted, but even with phenomenal growth it will never play more than a supporting role in the alternative energy scenery. But supporting roles can still win Academy Awards, and solar is one of the top nominees.

Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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