In the midst of fast-paced developing economies, energy markets are forced to make necessary adjustments in order to thrive. More sustainable and efficient technologies are being produced, opening the door to new alternative ways of producing energy.

By Jabir Mohamed, Outreach Manager, NJ Solar Power

Solar energy, along with wind and hydropower, stands out as one of the most promising and powerful alternatives. Sun energy promises to drive both industry and society away from the old-fashioned and highly toxic sources of energy, on which we are still heavily dependent.

Here we are going to show the different ways in which solar energy is paving the way into a new world, with friendlier ways of producing energy that meet the population’s most basic necessities – the start of a technological revolution that generates energy with green resources.

Costs are going down

Due to technological advances, more businesses and residences are able to afford solar technology. This has made available the fabrication of photovoltaic cells at a more economic price.

Recent investigations conducted by the Michigan Technological University have found a way to reduce the cost of solar power by 10%, by replacing conventional silicon with dry etched black silicon. This results in solar energy being a more attractive power source, that is cleaner and affordable. Another recent study was conducted by St John’s College (University of Cambridge) to expand the exploration of new ways for solar energy production and storage. They found out a way to transform water into hydrogen and oxygen by using sunlight.

This can lead the way to a new spectrum of fuels produced by hydrogen, created using solar energy, opening a new world of opportunities for alternative sources of fuel production. These new processes can be more efficient and definitely less damaging for our planet than ever before.

Technological advances

Technology has made possible the expansion of solar energy to be applied for different purposes as well as making current solar powerhouses more powerful. It has been discovered that the isolation and use of boron nitride can contribute to better performance of solar cells.

Also, new advances have led to the introduction of brand new organic solar cells that are less thick and therefore allow a better recollection of solar energy. This can provide a better alternative for conventional cells, as well as being cheaper to build because of not being as challenging to produce as the first ones.

Finally, NASA’s scientists have established a way to go to the sun as close as possible, like never done before without melting right away, by launching the Parker Solar Probe. This will allow the deepening of investigations on the solar atmosphere that will provide better insights into how that energy works. Moreover, how we can use that energy more efficiently.

The scientific research on Mother Nature’s greatest heat powerhouse is more active than ever before. This is expected to be translated into the invention and introduction of brand new solar technologies in the market of alternative energies.

We need to keep in mind that this market thrives on the premise of generating more energy and fuels with a lesser amount of resources. Making these systems more affordable for more people will definitely be a win-win for everyone and for the planet.

Nuclear industry is dying

For many decades the energy industry has led us to believe that nuclear power could be the answer to decarbonising the energy industry. However, after the Chernobyl events, and with advent of new alternative energy sources that are safer, efficient and economic coming up on the market, the nuclear utopia has ceased to come true.

What’s more, recent statements coming from US nuclear power talks have confirmed that nuclear is indeed losing its power.

In technological terms, nuclear reactors are becoming outdated. Also, the replacement of new generation reactors wouldn’t change a thing, as the current energy market does not support the necessary conditions for nuclear energy to thrive.

More countries are going for it

Germany is the leading country in the world, with the highest installed capacity for solar energy. More European countries are becoming heavyweights when it comes to solar energy, as the more stable weather patterns of the continent can provide a steady increment. This can lead to European countries generating up to 35% of their total electricity requirements from solar energy.

In the Americas, the United States is making huge efforts to rely more on alternative energy sources to provide for electricity and heating. In the state of New Jersey, for example, a lot of government facilities are used in order to provide solar energy for businesses and residences. Mexico could even turn out to be a principal solar powerhouse in America, as energy reforms along with more affordable sources could lead the solar energy industry to take off.

Looking into the future

Despite the efforts being made to reduce manufacturing costs, there’s still a long way to go. The solar energy industry only accounts for about 1% of total electricity generation. This is because sources that generate carbon dioxide emissions, like fossil fuels, are far more economical when compared to the solar output initial inversion.

Furthermore, there are still some issues with regard to the possibility of manufacturing photovoltaic cells on a larger scale. This puts a considerable break in the escalation of the offer of these systems. Nevertheless, many efforts are being made, with the help of governments, to break away from this block in the decades to come.

To make that possible, long-term strategies will need to be used in order to approach technological development in a way that the support is more focused on developing novel technologies that reduce both model and balance-off systems (BOTS). By doing so, the technologies can be more affordable, and these systems can be produced and bought on a larger scale.

Finally, it is important to inject more experience in manufacturing as well as deployment. This will result in building the foundation for a major escalation that is robust enough to break the current barriers established by energetic institutions, which can lead to a fall in federal support for solar technology.