As some of the readers may know from my profile, I majored in Electrical Engineering. Even though I have a passion for business, I have a much greater passion for science. Some say that the only difference between a scientist and an engineer is that engineers do the research and design the product, where scientist only do research.
In this article, I will talk about “green energy”, in other words Solar Power.
I believe that in the future the people and the planet will greatly benefit from solar energy. The idea has been around for a long time but it was a group of scientist (among them Einstein) who discovered how to mimic the photosynthesis of plants by creating a photovoltaic cell. It is a very simple concept which is composed of what is known as a semiconductor. A semiconductor can be simply explained as a device which electrons travel from one side to the protons on the other causing a photovoltaic effect. This effect refers to photons of light exciting electrons and then, allows them to act as charge carriers for an electric current. This is a very, very simplified version, but there are different types of semiconductors which perform different tasks under certain conditions and materials.
Semiconductors are the sole reason you are playing around with a smartphone, laptop or any electronic gadget for that matter, because they allow us to create complex electronics. After writing two paragraphs on explaining a semiconductor in-depth and how it works, I figured that by the first few sentences, I would lose you as a reader.
Anyways, if you put lots of these photovoltaic cells together, you get solar panels which are a large enough device able to create a large enough voltage to be useful to us. Because this technology is still new, scientists and engineers are working really hard to create more efficient ones. Currently, solar panels are around 21% efficient meaning that only 21% of the light that hits the solar cell is converted to electricity however there are devices in labs which go up to 40%. But engineers have to figure out how to create those results outside of the lab.
What does 21% efficiency mean?
It means that to get enough energy from the sun in order to power your house, you need a large area of solar panels. The higher the efficiency the less solar panels you need. Over time, this problem will be solved, and I believe we will see the day where solar panels are over 70% efficient and you won’t need as many of them to power your house.
Yes, we can try and “tighten our belts” by using less electricity, but I’m not the type of person that believes we should live within our means. If we lived within our means, we would still be riding horses, we wouldn’t be flying airplanes to go to Cancun for spring break, or raging to electronic music, techno or even dub-step.
Should I wait for better solar panels?
No, buying solar panels not only reduces your electric bill, but also qualifies you for state and federal tax incentives. This will reduce the cost of the project tremendously. It will also benefit the manufacturer because they will notice a greater need, and provide a greater supply. This will motivate other companies to begin producing solar panels and to obtain a competitive edge, they will make them more efficient. The interests of the few, will benefit the whole. Welcome to Capitalism!
What’s the next step?
The solution is out there, you may discover the formula to a more efficient solar cell or there is a guy/girl that is looking outside the window right now saying that s/he wants to study science. If you aren’t in the field of science, you should encourage youngsters to study science, not because it is easy or there will be lots of money involved but simply because they will change the world. They will be the reason for a greener planet. They will also make lots of money.