Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Solar Breakthoughs Promise a Future of Infinite Clean Energy

Solar towers at the Solucar Complex, Europe's largest solar complex. Located near Seville, Spain, the site provides 183 MW of clean electricity to 94,000 households, eliminating 114,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
With the billion-dollar war on renewable energy being waged by the Koch Brothers and utility giants, it's easy to get discouraged about the future of our planet. But breakthroughs in solar energy in particular are appearing at an ever-accelerating pace. Soon the technology will be so cheap and ubiquitous that it will simply drive dirty energy producers out of business.

Some fantastic news you may not be hearing about over the din:

Overseas, tremendous advances are being announced weekly. For example, in Australia, engineers converted over 40 percent of sunlight into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. The results were duplicated by the US National Renewable Energy Labs. But German engineers claim to have already topped that last year with an efficiency of 44.7%, and French engineers have produced a coating which can further boost efficiency as much as 24%. Meanwhile, engineers in Spain have developed solar cells which also harvest energy from the infrared light.

In America, the biggest corporate players are getting in on renewable energy in a big way, and the IRS is offering tax credits for it. Individual states are following suit, offering incentives like rebates and tax credits for homeowners and businesses who install solar energy systems.

In North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, engineers have created solar cells at 25% of the current manufacturing costs. Meanwhile, just down the road, NC State University has just announced another means of cheaply mass-producing solar cells.

The Navy is pushing hard for new technology for cheap, clean renewable storage. But chemists at Ohio State University have invented solar panels which store energy without batteries.

At MIT, chemistry professor Daniel Nocera has found a way of using solar power to generate massive quantities of clean-burning hydrogen.

All in all, right now is a superb time for betting on renewable energy to take off.

Happy new year. See you in 2015. ;-)

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