By fitting photovoltaic cells to your property, your conscience can be as clean as your energy supply. Generating your own solar electricity brings with it the prospect of getting a check from your utility company, and safeguarding your wallet against future rising energy costs; bundled with the fact that the power generated is carbon free and not damaging the the environment. What could be more rewarding?
Today's photovoltaic (solar-electric) panels, not to be confused with the huge, heavy hot-water panels that adorned so many roofs back in the 1970s, are cheaper, more efficient and versatile than they've ever been, and modern power inverters can produce an electric current of sufficient power to run virtually any load in any home, while generating an output clean enough to satisfy the noise-free needs of most delicate electronics.
A new solar plant in Nevada may be the key to the future of industrial-sized solar power generators. It uses concentrated solar (CSP) to collect thermal energy - at 750°F to produce steam that powers electric generators.Nevada Solar One is a 64-megawatt (mW) plant in Boulder City that produces enough electricity for 40,000 homes. The Department of Energy wants to have 1,000mW of CSP by 2010. Here's the best news: if CSP plants were built on just 9 percent of Nevada's land, they could generate enough electricity to power the entire United States!
The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of petroleum per day, importing more than half of it from other countries. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons. The United States also consumes 22 billion cubic feet (cu. ft.) of natural gas per year, importing about 20 percent of it, mostly from Canada.
What do you need to turn solar power into electricity? Clear, unshared access to the sun at least a few hours each day, adequate roof or ground space for the solar collectors, and some solar power generation equipment. There's more, of course, but those are the basic requirements. It's easier than you may think.
How much will your new solar power system cost and what are the benefits? Find out with one of the free Clean Power Estimator programs available websites. Choose one, then enter your zip code and the type of system, verify the assumptions, and get the result, including estimated cost, net savings, production, and emissions eliminated with clean renewable energy power.
How long does it take for a rooftop PV (photovoltaic) system to pay back its cost? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates five to seven years using 2009 PV technology. These paybacks are calculated with typical rebates. New-tech modules are those using the latest innovations with higher efficiency ranges. With a system life span of up to 30 years, that means PV systems can generate "free" electricity for 23 to 25 years. Before the end of the PV system life-cycle, Solar panels should be several times more capable and a fraction of today's cost; just like personal computers.
Conventional fuel sources have created a myriad of environmental problems, such as global warming, acid rain, smog,water pollution, rapidly filling waste disposal sites, destruction of habitat,and loss of natural resources. Photovoltaic systems do not pose these environmental consequences. Today, the majority of PV modules use silicon as their major component. The silicon cells manufactured from one ton of sand can produce as much electricity as burning 500,000 tons of coal.
Photovoltaic technology also creates jobs. In 2005 the solar industry employed at least 55,000 people in jobs such as research, manufacturing, development, and installation. According to the 2005 Solar Buzz Inc. report, the PV installation market grew 34% worldwide in 2005. The field is growing and there is a need for qualified installation professionals.
Economists have predicted that Photovoltaics will be the most rapidly growing form of commercial energy after 2030, with sales exceeding $100 billion. In fact, the use of solar and renewable energy is expected to double by the year 2010,which would create more than 350,000 new jobs. It is no surprise that this clean, reliable source of electric power is regarded as the future of energy production.
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