“Solar energy is clean, renewable and has vast potential. Generating solar power is pollution free, with panels lasting 25 plus years, with little degradation in performance,” stated Aquentium CEO Mark Taggatz.
If a concentrated solar power system was built that was a hundred mile by hundred mile square in size out in the Southwest (United States), which has some of the best solar resources in the entire world, or you covered 1 percent of the country’s land with photovoltaics, either strategy would be more than enough to meet the country’s entire energy demand.
Creating solar farms to meet energy demands while avoiding concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions could create hundreds of thousands jobs in the United States.
Another advantage of solar power is that it is usually produced during peak demand for electricity, for instance during hot summer days when air conditioners are often full-blast. That means that value of the electricity that it produces is significantly higher.
Photovoltaics have a slight advantage over solar thermal systems in that the latter do not require water, which can be an understandable advantage in the desert, where many solar farms are located. On the other hand, solar thermal systems can work in the shade for brief amounts of time, since the heated fluids they depend on can stay hot enough to generate electricity for some time without the sun, while photovoltaics need sunlight.
A typical home consumes 31 kWhrs/day. Each day the sun hits the planet with 3–9kWh/sq. meter of free energy. The best solar panels are about 20% efficient in converting solar power to electricity. With these ideal assumptions, 50 sq meters provides almost enough power for the typical home.
The amount of energy from the sun that falls on Earth is staggering. Averaged over the entire surface of the planet, roughly each square yard collects nearly as much energy each year as you’d get from burning a barrel of oil. Solar farms seek to harness this energy for megawatts of power.
There are two ways solar power is used to generate electricity. Solar thermal plants — also known as concentrating solar power systems focus sunlight with mirrors, heating water and producing steam that drives electric turbines, while photovoltaic cells directly convert sunlight to electricity.
Altogether, solar currently makes up less than 1 percent of U.S. energy, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.