The Bright Future of Solar Engineering Power Part Two

Making solar energy economical may be the single biggest environmental accomplishment of human existence since the Industrial Revolution.

The fundamental stages and applications of solar engineering have evolved quickly over the previous decade. Taking a look at the former authority book, Principles of Solar Engineering, many of the goals put forth by the author have already been met that he thought would be needed to make any significant strides in the field of solar engineering (Goswami, 594). The data regarding productivity goals for research set forth in this year 2000 publication have been met by recent research in 2010 including the ability to hold a battery’s charge exceeding 8 hours with a single solar charge (Boxwell, 224).

Much of the improved research has come with the advanced methods of understanding the irradiance of the rays being absorbed from the sun.

Through this aforementioned research we have developed better solar capabilities with increased understandings of solar rays. According to John Duffie, we now have definite measurements of extraterrestrial solar irradiance that were before just estimations (Duffie, 8). We can now chart the average wavelengths which allow us to engineer parts and components able to best capture energy from heat and thermals with greater accuracy which produce more efficient tools for capturing energy.

Further research in the late 2000’s also generated discoveries about the importance of cloud cover in solar energy conversion. Since direct sunlight is not always available in every area, calculated radiation has much to do with mean monthly cloud cover. An empirical relationship has been derived to relate the average radiation to cloud cover (Duffie, 68). This was a formula sought to be the reason solar power would never take off in 1978 according to Paltridge and Proctor.

Not everyone is on board with solar energy. One concern has been raised that the panels and batteries needed to carry the currents of solar energy are harmful to the environment in themselves. This fear of solar cells and the consequences of solar production are covered in a chapter of a 2009 text, Solar Energy Engineering, and the point is raised that as production increases the process will become more efficient and tested. Through this process it is feasible to predict that methodologies can be devised to produce the batteries in a less harmful way to make the entire process more of a net positive for the environment. This process is argued in the text to still be more viable than the depletion of fossil fuels and burning of chemicals that is the status quo (Kalogirou, 485).

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Jerry Walch
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Posted on Apr 20, 2011