When you happen to drive by a bank of solar panels at work gathering the sun’s rays, it doesn’t appear to the naked eye as though there is much going on, other than a passive collection process. In one sense, that could be considered true, since the gathering of the sun rays is a fairly simple thing, but it gets a lot more complicated when it’s necessary to convert that solar power into electricity.
The good news for inhabitants of earth, at least all those who regularly consume electrical power in their daily lives, is that the entire process has now been made nearly as efficient and productive as it can be. The solar power industry is still growing of course, and will continue to undergo changes in the future, but the actual process of converting the sun’s rays into electricity has now been refined nearly to the point of mastery.
Room for improvement
As efficient as the process has become, there is still room for improvement in productivity. The most advanced solar panels being manufactured today have the ability to convert as much as 26% of available sunlight into electricity. When the first solar cell was invented in 1883 by Charles Fritts, it could only convert a little over 1% of the sunlight striking it into electricity. This conversion percentage will be difficult to increase given the nature of the crystalline silicon materials used, since they will not allow for much improvement. However, by using concentrators which are able to collect sunlight from vast areas and focus them directly on to solar panels, even greater collection efficiency can still be achieved.
Pace of improvement
Oddly enough, there isn’t really a huge demand for widespread implementation and usage of these concentrators to increase the efficiency and productivity of solar energy conversion. The fact is, solar power is already more efficient and less costly than the use of fossil fuels in most places, so there simply isn’t a huge need to implement the more advanced technology.
If that were to be done on a widespread basis, it would certainly drive up the cost of solar energy, and perhaps make it less appealing as an energy choice. The use of solar energy concentrators is still likely to eventually come into widespread usage at some point though, when the cost of manufacturing them and installing them does not significantly increase the overall cost of solar energy.
Solar energy in Orange County
With the abundant sunshine available in the state of California, solar energy is a natural fit for homeowners and business owners in the state. Solar energy in Orange County is available through Solar Energy Exchange, and with the enormous appeal of lower utility costs, as well as the promise of greater efficiencies in the future, solar energy should be something that every state resident should seriously consider.