A question we come across daily deals with new and emerging technologies.
"If I put solar on my home or business today, will they be obsolete or out of date tomorrow?"
As a renewable energy integrator we strive to be a leader in not only the products we use, but also in the up-and-coming products of the future. We spend a great deal of time researching this area of our industry and last week, at Solar Power International 2010 (SPI 2010), we had the opportunity to witness, first hand, some of these products. The scope of new products continues to grow each year, but the same issues seem to present themselves as well.
Reliability | Efficiency | Testing Standards
Take for instance, OPV (Organic Photo-Voltaic) cells. A recent article in "ScienceDaily" touched on these conductive polymers and the advantages they may provide for the solar market as well as other industries. When they were put "under the microscope" by industry leaders, OPV fell short of the expectations desired by consumers and market providers alike. The reasons: Reliability, efficiency, and testing standards.
Stephen Lacey, Editor of Renewable Energy World, conducted a roundtable discussion on what it takes to bring third and fourth generation solar technologies to commercialization. Again, issues of reliability, efficieny, and testing standards were a central theme.
So, we are still faced with the same question. Do we put solar on our homes or businesses now, or wait for the "new and improved" technology? It appears these new technologies could have you waiting for quite some time.
So far there hasn't been a new solar energy product that has totally revolutionized the photovoltaic industry. Every attempt to do so has failed to meet the reliability, efficieny, and testing standards currently associated with the available products. Current solar technologies have the advantage because they have been in production for over 50 years. Solar cell manufacturers have had a lot of time to perfect their product. It has improved over the years in both reliability and efficiency. It has come from "Lab to Market" and has been able to meet the global demands thus far.
The products available today are designed to be reliable and efficient. With production warranties of 25 years and life expectancies of over 50 years, there isn't another solar product that can compete. The testing procedures have been standardized on an international level, so you know exactly what you are buying, and the expectations we have can be met.
The research and work being conducted by scientific institutions, universities, government agencies, and entrepreneurs is vital for the future growth of our nation, the international community, and our planet. There is still a lot to discover about the power of the sun, but in the mean time, lets make some energy!
Power to the Solar!