Types Of Renewable Fuels Solar Energy

This is the energy radiated to the earth from the sun. Solar thermal devices use direct heat from the sun, concentrating it in some manner to produce heat at useful temperatures. The amount of energy that reaches the earth and can be tapped for our use depends very much on time and geography. What that means is that there'll be more solar energy during the day than during the night, and also that the tropics—such as Africa and the Caribbean—will have more heat than polar areas in the northern hemisphere.

The modern solar industry has a long history, but began in earnest with the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 to 1974 and was strengthened in 1979 during the Iranian revolution, which took out of the market about six million barrels per day of oil from Iran. The growth of the U.S. solar industry during this period of fuel shortages and high prices (1974 to 1984) soared from 45 solar collector manufacturing firms to 225 firms, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The solar market was helped during this period by federal and state government assistance. Currently, solar thermal devices do everything from heating swimming pools to creating steam for electricity generation. Photovoltaic devices use semiconducting materials to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Solar radiation, which is nearly constant outside the Earth's atmosphere, varies with changing atmospheric conditions—clouds and dust—and the changing position of the Earth relative to the sun. Nevertheless, almost all U.S. regions have useful solar resources that can be accessed.

Major U.S. oil companies haven't fully embraced renewable energy sources because of their low economic returns. It takes almost four to five times as much money to produce the same amount of energy from the sun as from conventional oil and gas. Moreover, solar has a lower net energy than oil and gas. Still, European companies are way ahead on this front. A good example is British oil giant BP, which is committed to creating a sustainable solar business that is both profitable and environmentally beneficial. In 2004 BP Solar took a major step toward this goal when it made a profit for the first time. It's important to note that happened because BP has a lot of experience—over 30 years—and installations in more than 160 countries. BP Solar is one of the world's largest solar companies—designing, manufacturing, and marketing solar electric systems for a wide range of applications in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

Since 2004, BP has focused on key growth markets, particularly the United States and Germany, where it has rolled out new products and engaged in high-profile marketing campaigns. Sales of solar capacity have grown by more than 30 percent globally, consolidating BP's position as a leading player in the global photovoltaic market. This refocus-ing has given the company a new base from which to grow. In 2004, BP announced that it would be able to increase its renewable fuel supply ca pacity from 90 megawatts to around 200 megawatts by 2006. That's a remarkable achievement considering that the company's capacity was only 32 megawatts in 1999. BP Solar operates four major manufacturing plants in the United States, Spain, Australia, and India.

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