What is the challenge with solar energy?

The more electricity you want to produce, the more solar panels you'll need, since you'll want to collect as much sunlight as possible. Photovoltaic solar panels require a lot of space and some roofs aren't big enough to fit the number of solar panels you'd like to have. The transition to a low-carbon energy system requires a wide range of materials for the necessary technologies. Now, a study highlights how large the demand for aluminum could be with the rapid adoption of photovoltaic energy, which could have a huge carbon footprint if no action is taken in the sector.

Competitions also make it easier for new solar energy innovators to enter the solar market, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and increase the number and quality of prospects working to develop solutions. Plates can concentrate the sun's rays to heat the fluids that drive engines and produce energy, a possible approach for generating solar electricity. The Catalyst Energy Innovation Prize encouraged the rapid creation and development of products and software that would address short-term challenges in the United States. Developing catalysts that could match those found in living cells would dramatically increase the attractiveness of a solar-produced fuel cell storage system for a solar energy economy.

Overcoming barriers to widespread solar energy generation will require engineering innovations in several areas to capture energy from the Sun, convert it into useful forms and store it for use when the sun itself is hidden. The 7-Day Solar Race encouraged local governments, communities, solar energy companies and power companies to collaborate and improve the “on-going solar experience” for Americans and businesses, from permit to installation. However, the share of solar energy in the total energy market is still quite small, well below 1 percent of total energy consumption, compared to approximately 85 percent of oil, natural gas and coal. The Department of Energy's Office of Solar Energy Technologies (SETO) funds award contests to encourage innovation and accelerate the development of new solar energy solutions.

Through a series of contests and progressive cash prizes, Catalyst allowed American innovators to transform their business plans into energy startups, helping to launch cutting-edge software companies ready to face urgent market challenges. For solar energy to be economically competitive, engineers must find ways to improve cell efficiency and reduce their manufacturing costs. The sun's contribution to human energy needs is already substantial worldwide, and solar electricity generation is a growing multi-billion dollar industry. Solar energy generation follows a fairly predictable routine: it increases throughout the day, peaks in the afternoon, and then decreases as night falls.

A solar cell is made of silicon, which is obtained by heating quartz to extremely high temperatures (1200 degrees Celsius), releasing a large amount of carbon emissions in the process. If engineering challenges can be overcome to improve solar cells, reduce their costs and provide efficient ways to use their electricity to create storable fuel, solar energy will assert its superiority over fossil fuels as a sustainable driving force for the continued prosperity of civilization.

Wallace Butler
Wallace Butler

Zombie guru. Amateur music fan. Certified travel advocate. Passionate pizza lover. Friendly burrito practitioner. Friendly musicaholic.

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