The meeting of Bloomington Commission on Sustainability from February 12, 2013 discussed various ongoing projects and upcoming events, statistics, and interesting facts that had taken place within and outside the community. However, the most significant part of the meeting was devoted to the reports regarding the solar panels use and their potential contribution to the sustainability initiatives' development process in Bloomington (CATS, 2013).
What is Solar Power Energy?
Solar power energy use is the safe and clean power-producing future for the humankind and the Earth.
The modern society consumes energy as never before. People need energy for everything around - homes, cars, computers, cells, etc. Therefore, people have to get this energy from somewhere. Fossil fuel is the most viable source. However, it is clear that it will eventually be depleted and such situation will lead to the catastrophe in all spheres of life, would it be economic, social, or any other. Solar power energy could become an excellent solution for this problem.
In order to answer this question and support or disprove the thesis statement, it is needed to explore the following areas first: the essence of solar power energy, its advantages, and disadvantages; how its usage can be beneficial for the country; and how "solar power" initiatives are supported by the government and other authorities if they are.
The available sources were used to explore the current situation and draw the appropriate conclusions.
The articles were analyzed in order to find the necessary data, supportive arguments, etc. According to Vries (2009), it is the light from the Sun collected using photo voltaic cells (PV). Vries (2009) states the following: "Light from the Sun is used with photo voltaic cells (PV). PV cells react to a certain frequency of sunlight striking the surface of the cells. This causes a direct current to be generated. This current can be controlled and collected in a battery. Once the current is stored it can be used or transformed for use in the home to power appliances." As one can see, such kind of energy is free in terms of the source. People do not have to pay to make Sun shine.
However, people need to pay for the technologies that allow people to collect, store, and use solar power energy. The price of these technologies is not that affordable yet. It is one of the most substantial disadvantages of this source of energy for people now (Pollick, 2010). On the other hand, the availability of sunlight and the area that it "covers" can mitigate the negative impact of the price on the spread and support of this technology by regular people.
The last two or three decades have been marked by the domination of solar cells based on silicone. Nowadays silicone is dominant in more than 80 percent of manufacturing infrastructure in the whole world and the major part of it is in China. Strategies of Chinese solar manufacturers have played a great part in the fact that the market is oversaturated with materials and prices of solar cells drop quickly.
If one asks a question about the reasons of silicone domination, the answer is simple. This material is everywhere; it comes from sand. Various types of silicone are used in production of solar cells and the efficiencies of the cells can be up to 20 percent with the price of $1 to $1.10 per watt. Other manufacturers use thin-film technologies in production managing to decrease the cost to about 70-80 cents per watt with the efficiency of the cells of around 10 to 13 percent. Organic photovoltaics have been used as well by some manufacturers, but stable efficiencies at small cost are not achieved yet (Energy Digital, 2012).
At the same a group of experts who have been monitoring the market of solar industry since its beginning has developed a groundbreaking idea. Magnolia Solar uses nanostructure-based coatings and this concept gives an opportunity to fully absorb all light increasing the efficiencies of 15 to 20 percent making the price of a watt about 50 cents. This is the lowest price on the market (Energy Digital, 2012). The research and first programs of this outstanding concept have been funded by such organizations as NASA, the US Air Force, and the National Science Foundation.
Among other advantages of solar power, energy to be used is the area of its application. Solar power energy can be stored in the appropriate capacities (batteries) and then used anytime people like. For example, water heaters can be powered by the power of the Sun and this source will never disappear. Well, scientists say that someday, it thousands of years the Sun will die but today and for the closest perspective of hundreds of years people have absolutely renewable, clean, and available power source for all possible needs. The only thing people need to learn is how to collect it in the most optimal way, considering the price of technologies to be used and their effectiveness.
Today, it is already used in many locations of the country to generate electricity.
The American Southwest is the area where the concentration of commercial solar power plants have proved already the effectiveness of solar power energy use as one of the strategic energy sources for the U.S. Many other locations utilize solar power energy as one of the sources of electricity and it is great that it saves fossil fuel for at least some percent now (NRDC, 2010; Renewable-SolarEnergy, 2011).
The following advantages can be outlined as the major ones in term of the country: sunlight is a free and nearly infinite source of energy; it does not produce polluting gases or other substances that create green gas effect for the planet; solar panels are not cheap by they do not brake as often as turbines, for example, and it is easy to maintain them; solar photovoltaic panels can be used as a backup power source at the moment, eliminating the necessity in building new plants for producing energy from fossil fuel and nuclear power; finally, solar power plants create new jobs across the country (NRDC, 2010; Renewable-SolarEnergy, 2011).
As it can be noticed, the development of solar power energy movement in the country has a substantial pace. President Obama has announced lately the initiatives of the American government to support the solar power energy initiatives across the country. According to BionomicFuel.com (2010), "the government is going to shell out nearly $2 billion for new solar power plants in the US as part of the Recovery Act." It means that such enormous sum of money will be spent for new plants, new jobs, and new opportunities for solar power energy use in the U.S. The government wants to protect the country from being excessively dependent from the foreign sources of energy, such oil. In addition, these initiatives would provide the U.S. with an opportunity to influence the global climate change in terms of mitigating its aftereffects to some extent (BionomicFuel, 2010).
There are certain issues considering the price of technologies, used to collect it.
However, the advantages outweigh the price. On the other hand, the Sun is not available at night. Therefore, people need to consider the situation when the Sun is not available for some reason. For example, some cataclysm of global scale, like a gigantic volcano eruption. The ash can hide sunlight for a long term. It should not make people neglect this source of energy. It should make people be more creative and try to develop power-manufacturing plants that would produce electricity regardless of the situation with skies' clarity.
The energy of power of the Sun is clean and simple to collect. It does not pollute air, water, and soil. It is the future of the power-producing industry. Then why does the entire population of Earth not use this fantastic opportunity to solve all energy problems? Well, not all people believe that sun power energy is beneficial for their pocket. Good old-fashioned gas in the tank of their cars and polluting gases are more preferable for them. Burning coal and natural gas to heat water is more appropriate for too many people on the planet yet. However, the day will come when one will look at the Sun and think that is the only source of energy left for people.