Solar photovoltaic is currently the most expensive form of electricity available ... which is weird, right? I mean, the fuel is free and the intermediate technology is made out of, essentially, sand. So what's the deal?
In this article for National Geographic News, I probe the details to try and understand what makes solar power so spendy most places—and why it's actually already a reasonably-priced option in others.
So why is solar so expensive?
Converting light into electricity with no moving parts is a profoundly different enterprise than turning a turbine to make power--the technology that is at work in coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower plants and, most visibly to the public, at wind farms.
"Wind power is the same technology as it's been for 1,000 years," said Tom Meyer, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "There's nothing to invent. It just needs to be improved." The makers of wind turbines have made huge cost reductions in recent decades with relatively small tweaks to an otherwise familiar system.
That's not yet true for solar, experts say. Most solar cells are made from silicon--the same semiconductor material that is at the heart of computers. The cells are expensive to produce because it takes a great deal of energy to purify the silicon. And, while the computer industry has made enormous strides in making cheaper silicon devices, those advancements don't translate to the solar industry.
National Geographic News: Shining a Light on the Cost of Solar Energy
Image: Some rights reserved by Eleaf
You’d be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end. The last recorders were sold in 2002. ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge]
A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company’s consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims. The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are […]
LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.
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