Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Solar Energy is Already Really Efficient — But Still Improving

Capturing the sun’s rays and converting them into electricity is a complicated process. But it’s one that humans have actually almost mastered at this point.

The solar industry is still growing and evolving. But basic solar panels, those made from crystalline silicon, are now about as efficient as they physically can be.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still room for improvement though. The latest panels can convert more than 26 percent of sunlight into usable electricity. When you consider the ability of the materials used, that’s very efficient. But there are some other tools that can be used to make solar power even more efficient, like concentrators that collect sunlight from a larger area and concentrate it right onto a solar panel.

Of course, these materials aren’t widely used yet. And considering that solar energy right now, under the right circumstances, is already less expensive than fossil fuels, there’s not a huge push to add concentrators and similar pieces of equipment to a lot of existing solar panels.

But it has taken years and years for the solar industry to get to this point. And the cost of basic panels has gone down gradually over that time. So the cost of concentrators and new innovations could certainly get more affordable over time as well.

It’s Important to Keep Up With New Innovations

New industries like solar power are constantly changing and evolving. So it’s important to keep up with new innovations. But it’s also important to recognize the progress that has been made up to this point.

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