Rob--I agree completely. I don't think we will ever "outgrow" our dependence on petroleum or other fossil fuels but we must continue developing alternative sources of energy. I think our future depends upon it. Any improvement in existing technology is the correct and proper course to follow. Right now I'm listening to a local radio station telling me there are 24 countries, mostly in the Middle East, with citizens demonstrating in front of our embassies and consulates. They don't seem to like us at all for whatever reason. That feeling won't go away anytime soon. Also, I just paid $3.82 per gallon to fill up my Toyota Pre-runner. Fifteen gallon tank. We can all do the math. I have no idea as to where the gas prices might go from here. One of my clients is heavily invested in the production of biofuels. I think in the long run, he really has a winner.
I agree that we won't outgrow petroleum and other fossil fuels, Bobjengr. As alternative fuels become less expensive, fossil fuels will also go down in price -- demand will decrease. Plus, some fossil fuels such as natural gas are already dirt cheap.
Al Presher, solar energy is abundantly available in all corners of earth and about 99.9% such energies are wasting without any usage. Only a small portion of it is converting to power using various solar photovoltaic cells. So far I hadn't though any optimization technology in solar energy conversion because its free and abundantly available in our nature.
Mydesign, Al may have a different answer, but the point of increasing efficiency in any solar energy, or other alternative energy, technology is to make it easier for people to switch from traditional petro-based energy technologies.
Ann, The key with control technology advances in solar is to help with the dual problem the technology faces: efficiency and reliability. The critical measure for solar is the ability to achieve system payback to justify the initial investment. Obviously this means efficiency of the solar system in terms of energy production, but the systems also need to perform reliably in difficult environmental conditions for 15-20 years. That's why this focus on optimizing solar inverters is important; it addresses both concerns.
An interesting quote in this article: "With solar tracking moving heavily toward simpler, less expensive single-axis solutions to reduce costs". Another article from today (9/17) talks about mounting solar panels on robotic technology. It looks like they are actually implementing both ends of the spectrum.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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