Envionmental Psychology

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The Spotlight Shines Brightly for Solar Energy

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

No matter what you may have heard, solar energy is the wave of the future, in large part because of its utter simplicity. A photovoltaic, cell collects energy from the sun, and that energy is converted into electricity without the use of chemicals, liquids, or moving parts. It's that easy.

A number of solar cells are generally linked together on a solar panel, hooked up in series to allow all the cells to work in unison. The energy that's generated is then stored in a battery, in the form of DC current. Since most household appliances run on AC current, the electricity is then converted to AC current by a device called an inverter.

The efficiency of photovoltaic cells has improved a great deal over the past few years, but it still would take a huge array of panels to run your entire house with solar power. Even so, it's still possible to use solar to power at least a portion of you home at a relatively minimal cost. For instance, you could power your home computer and a few other small electrical appliances using a system that costs about $1,000.00 to have installed. At the moment, solar systems generally cost about $10.00-$12.00 per watt.

Since it's totally renewable and doesn't pollute, it's easy to see that the future of solar power is so bright. If we could harness just one hour's worth of the suns total solar power every day, we'd have enough energy to fuel the entire planet's energy needs for a whole year. That's an amazing amount of potential power, and it's just waiting for us to tap into it.

As photovoltaic cells continue to improve, the cost of solar energy will keep coming down, and eventually, it will become economically feasible for everyone to switch to solar. Enormous amounts of money are being poured into solar research--some of it from seemingly unlikely sources, such as a number of major oil companies. However, that shouldn't really come as a surprise, because they can see the handwriting on the wall as well as anyone, and it's clear that they, like most forward thinking people, understand that the future of the world's energy lies in solar power.

Copyright 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

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