Solar production of electricity: prospects, problems
The world has been developing more and more actively the well-known technologies used for transforming the solar light into a thermal and electric energy in the past 10 years more and more actively. However, a kilowatt-hour is too expensive – that is why people can’t afford solar energy for everyday use.
The experiments to transform solar energy into electricity in industrial volumes started nearly 30 years ago. However the peak in the construction of solar electric power plants has become visible in the past decade. Spain, where the world’s biggest electric power plant using photocells was built in 2008, was the first in Europe to start building solar electric power plants. In Nevada (the USA) a helio-thermal plant provides electricity to nearly 20,000 houses. Hundreds of big electric power plants located not only in Europe and in North America, but also in Japan, Thailand, India, and China are transforming solar energy today. In brief, the production of electricity from solar energy has become a reality today. True, this costs much. That is why the world’s leader in this field is Germany that can afford big and long-term investments but China is running down Europe and the USA now.
China ranks first in the production of solar batteries and accompanying goods in the world today, and in several years it plans to complete the construction of numerous solar thermal electric plants. China desperately needs energy resources and will lavish money on such projects. At the initial stage any production proves expensive though. In time it falls in price, as we know, Executive Director of the Centre for Effective Use of Energy Igor Bashmakov says:
"The scientific work aimed at cheapening the production of electricity from solar energy and at making it more affordable for everyone is going on. Of course, there is certain experience in this field which is helpful in advancing towards the desired results."
Quantity will be transformed into quality without fail, specialists say. Acting with the support of state structures, private companies are announcing numerous projects all over the world, including the construction of the “city of the future” – Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – where the green technologies will be used to provide electricity to its residents and where a solar electric power plant will be placed on the roof. The implementation of a large-scale project - Desertec – is currently in full swing in Sahara. It is planned that in 40 years it will produce such amount of electricity that will be enough to provide electricity to 20 per cent of the European consumers.
However, specialists are unanimous in their opinion that saving will be a determining factor for the production of electricity from solar energy. Should an attempt to cheapen the solar energy prove successful, a boost will be given to the generation of electricity from solar energy. And if economists find that consumers are unable to pay for the ecologically clean energy, mankind will continue to consume oil, gas and even wood until their reserves become exhausted or until scientists invent a cheaper technology.