America uses literally billions of gallons of oil per year, most of which comes from overseas interests in the middle-east. America’s economy would crash in days without this supply of oil, and with the geopolitical instability in the region and the waning supply of oil for global consumption; it makes sense that the world’s leading scientists would want cut America’s addiction to oil, and promote renewable energy options.
Because Earth’s sun will be producing a nearly endless supply of light and heart energy for the next several hundred million years, it makes sense that those developing new energy sources would want to find a way to get power from the Sun.
For the last twenty years or so, scientists have been experimenting with and developing photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity directly from sunlight. Initially the idea of a solar power plant was not cost effective because in its infancy, solar cells were simply not an efficient way to generate power for consumption.
However the costs of manufacturing these devices have dropped by about 5% ever year due to new technologies and increased competition. The prices of producing energy through solar has decreased from $7.50 per watt hour to $4.00 per watt hour since 1990. In the year 2004, the amount of energy produced through solar cells increased by 32% and in 2005 it increased by 60%
New technologies being developed could possibly make the user of solar energy just as cheap as energy from the power grid. Scientists have been centering their work on focusing sunlight on to a single point.
This idea has been around for some time, but in the last year their focus has been brought back to it. These new cells that focus light torward the center allow them to be smaller in size and produce the same amount of energy, meaning that these cells placed over a given area can produce a lot more energy.
The corporation that became famous for supplying the photovoltaic cells that are on the Mars rovers is now producing a number of these light-concentrating photo cells for use world wide.
They became so famous because NASA though the batteries might last for 90 days and instead they have been lasting for years. Spectrolab, which is a division of Boeing, plans on producing a number of focused-light solar cells for use in Australia which will power over 3500 homes.
Currently the super-efficient photovoltaic cells are still in development. The systems are very complex and significantly difficult to produce, with additional research and development perhaps someday in the future super-efficient solar cells will be simple and cost effective for use in global power production.