More than 90,000 solar panels combine to generate enough power to run some 3,000 homes in the Sunshine State. At an opening ceremony for the plant in October, Obama said that it was "about time" such a facility came online.
Yet in the midst of a painful recession and with electricity demand actually falling in
Solar power has long been the holy grail of energy production.
It is clean, and sunshine is free and in inexhaustible supply. But it remains a tiny part of worldwide energy production, about 0.02 percent. Of course, solar power has made some gains from the days of powering just calculators. Solar cells now top streetlights and stoplights, roadside emergency phones, small homes off the power grid, and oil rigs offshore. The conversion of solar energy into electric power on an industrial level, on the other hand, has remained a distant and elusive goal.
There are several serious technological hurdles that prevent solar power from cracking into the power-generation market in a major way. Moreover, private investors and public-policy makers are leery of investing heavily in technologies that may be leapfrogged by a far more efficient technology in the coming months or years.
Large-scale production will continue only in fits and starts, experts say, until solar power has a solid track record of generating with equal consistency both power and revenue.
A chief inhibitor of solar power's growth has been the country's antiquated power grid, which generally can't
incorporate solar power generated in homes into the grid. But the federal government has committed more than
Another speed bump on the road to sustainable solar power is the cost of the raw materials. One explanation for the high cost is that solar cell producers have to compete with computer-chip makers for the same raw materials. And, like microprocessors in a PC, solar cells are surprisingly fragile. Keeping an entire field of them in service can be prohibitively expensive because they require .
The solar array in
Larger plants are now under construction in
Available at Amazon.com:
- Time to Act on a Bleak Fiscal Future
- Most Americans Getting Whacked by High Energy Costs
- Energy Race: United States Needs Coherent Clean Energy Strategy
- Reality Check: Energy Powers That Be
- Jolt for Energy Innovation: Government Investing
- Source of Sunny Optimism: Obama Touting Solar Power Potential
- Side by Side in Need for Green Growth: China and America try cooperation
- National Power Grid That Thinks
- Home Sales Flat Before Spring Buying Season
- America's Most Underwater Housing Markets
- The Google Syndrome: China's Corporate Woes
- Companies Learning How to Capture Power of the Oceans and Seas
- Consumers who go green may qualify for federal credits and deductions
- Many clean energy stimulus projects have yet to get off ground
- Return of the Three-Generation Household
Source of Sunny Optimism: Obama Touting Solar Power Potential | Alex Kingsbury
(c) 2010 U.S. News & World Report