Solar Energy and Global Energy System

This research paper seeks to inform the reader of solar photovoltaics and the global potential to provide a reliable while also behaving as renewable energy source that can last indefinitely. Solar photovoltaics is a method that directly converts sunlight into a different form of energy called electricity using solar cells. It potentially can aid in granting humanity access to an unlimited supply of energy if we can bypass the roadblocks preventing the technology from being fully utilized.

It was discovered in the early 1800s by a French physicist and has since been studied, but only started to rapidly progress in the 1950s and 60s. The rapid progression was due to study in space travel and solar photovoltaics was used as a method to grant satellites energy while they are in space. Ever since, it has been the subject of ongoing research to potentially provide the world with an unfathomable amount of energy.

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Unfortunately, several drawbacks are to blame for the delay of large scale deployment for this method. Drawbacks for this method include the cost of raw materials and the overall manufacturing of the solar cells to be used. Another drawback is the unfortunate reality that the perfect semiconductor is yet to be found, there is a list of criteria for the perfect material for solar cells. However, we must sacrifice some requirements in favor of others due to not discovering a material that fits all the criteria.

This, in turn, limits the potential efficiency limits of our solar cells that utilize solar photovoltaics. The market for solar energy continues to grow about 35-40% per year and is evidence of solar photovoltaics being a possible method to secure our future and solve the world’s energy crisis. A plausible solution to solve the drawbacks presented would be for powerful governments to integrate policies that would further advance technologies in the industries that both mine the materials for the solar cells, and the industries that manufacture them.

This would decrease the cost and would allow for solar cells to be more applicable worldwide. Global energy requirements are forever increasing due to our rapidly increasing population, and inevitably the fossil fuels we use will not be enough to supply the energy that is needed. Overall, solar photovoltaics is a process that has vast potential to both solve Earth’s dooming energy crisis and could also provide a great share of the world’s energy through a clean and renewable source. Once policies are integrated and followed, it is only a matter of time until solar photovoltaics is used to its full potential to provide energy for all of Earth, both saving it and saving humanity.

Solar Photovoltaics may very well be the solution to the complicated energy crisis plaguing mankind. The energy crisis is an issue that is currently the face of what the world’s future will be. Currently, societies energy is almost completely reliant on fossil fuels (Tao, 2014). These resources are limited and non-renewable, which will eventually lead the world to a time when they are no longer available.

Ever since the industrialization of the modern world, the over-consumption of fossil fuels is putting the world as we know it at risk (Tao, 2014). Aside from the potential for these resources to become completely obliterated, the emission of carbon dioxide from these fossil fuels is pushing the world to the edge of extinction. These dooming forms of energy produce the carbon dioxide that is suspected to be the evil behind the threat of global warming (Tao, 2014). The generation of the twenty-first century has come to a point where they will need to decide the direction of the earth’s future, which is based on their decisions about energy sources.

The production of carbon dioxide is leading to the Earth’s atmosphere becoming filled with greenhouse gases, which will eventually destroy the atmosphere through the heating up of the world’s climate (Tao, 2014). The Earth has always had carbon dioxide within its atmosphere. But today, mankind has had a detrimental impact on the balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The reliance on gases, oils, and coals is putting a harmful amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the world’s climate (Tao, 2014).

This accretion of damage to the Earth can be prevented through the discovery and harnessing of other resources that are renewable. One of the most effective possibilities will be the use of solar photovoltaics (Parida, Iniyan & Goic 2011). Solar photovoltaics is the way in which energy is created from the transformation of direct sunlight into electricity, without requiring any heat engine (Parida et al., 2011).

The sun is a resource that will not run out or do harm to the Earth in the process of its harnessing. Photovoltaics is the most efficient way to attain solar energy through its successful production of power and light absorption (Parida et al., 2011). The world has not been taking advantage of any of the benefits of solar photovoltaics, as it has represented less than .1% of all the world’s energy production (Denholm, Margolis 2007).

Solar photovoltaics is the answer to the world’s energy crisis. It will completely solve the issue of damaging carbon dioxide emissions. It is clean, renewable, and never-ending. If photovoltaics is used to its full potential it will also be able to produce far more energy than fossil fuels ever could (Tao, 2014). Photovoltaics is a new and extremely more efficient answer to the energy crisis the world is currently facing.

Solar Photovoltaics is an energy conversion most often used through solar panels. These panels are often mounted on modules, which are normally wired together to form an array. In 1839, a French physicist named Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while studying the effect of light on electrolytic cells (Razykkov et al., 2011). Becquerel’s experiment consisted of an electrochemical cell with an electrode of silver chloride and an electrode made up of platinum, which was placed in an acidic solution (Tao 2014).

A light was then shed upon the AgCl electrode, a voltage occurred between the two electrodes. A solid-state device that can make use of photovoltaics was made in 1883 by an American inventor by the name of Fritts (Tao 2014). However, the conversion efficiency was less than 1%. It was not until the 1950s that solar cells started to develop rapidly. This breakthrough was owed to the space programs and the utility they provided for satellites (Razykkov et al., 2011). Solar cells of today were created by Bell Laboratories in 1946, and by 1954 a cell was developed that demonstrated the first modern Silicon solar cell (Tao 2014).

Within the 1970s, there was an energy crisis that greatly stimulated the development and research of solar photovoltaics (Razykkov et al., 2011). With a solar cell, two processes must be present simultaneously within any solar cell to successfully utilize solar photovoltaics (Tao 2014). The first process is to convert the photons absorbed into charge carriers, and then the second process is to create a charge separation by the built-in potential difference, which then successfully drives the electrical current through the external load of a system (Tao 2014). Currently, solar photovoltaics only represent a very small share of the production and electricity capacity (Denholm, Margolis 2007).

The world has been grossly over consuming energy from non-renewable energy sources. As of today, the world consumes a total energy value of 10 terawatts (TW) and it has been projected that by 2050 the total needed energy will be 30 terawatts (Razykkov et al., 2011). It has been estimated that the earth will need 20 terawatts of non-carbon dioxide energy to be able to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide within our atmosphere (Razykkov et al., 2011).

The Earth has always had its own carbon dioxide emission but has always been able to balance it out. However, the carbon dioxide emissions being added by humans is causing an imbalance and is causing a rise in temperature of the planet, which can be extremely horrific for all the Earth’s inhabitants. The Earth rising in temperature will lead to significant melting of the ice caps, thus sea levels will rise, causing mass flooding and extreme weather.

The energy system of the entire world must be transformed towards high sustainability in order to prevent the catastrophe of global warming, which solar photovoltaics is often considered one of the greatest potentials to aid in the transitions (Breyer et al., 2015). When developing solar cells, the materials used are commonly the same.

The most commonly used material is silicon (Si), silicon is one of the best materials to use because of the efficiency they provide. Commercial Silicon solar cells tend to use boron-doped wafers that were successfully grown by a process called the Czochralski (CZ) process (Razykkov et al., 2011). However, the most efficient solar cells are grown using the float-zone process, because it has the lowest recombination losses. The energy efficiency of a solar cell was found to be the ratio of the incident solar power compared to the maximum electric power output (Tao 2014).

When considering the efficiency of solar cells, it is necessary for the sunlight to meet the solar cell at a perpendicular angle to allow for the maximum amount of energy from the sunlight to be optimized (Razykkov et al., 2011). This proves to be another issue because the sun does not consistently provide direct sunlight. Due to this, there must be a system in place that changes the angle and direction of the solar panels within an array to properly allow for the maximum potential amount of sunlight to be absorbed and turned into electricity (Razykkov et al., 2011).

Although they are early in development, nanomaterials provide a very good chance for solar cells to allow higher efficiencies due to its electrical, optical, and chemical properties (Razykkov et al., 2011). This system of nanomaterials has not yet been applied on a large scale, but it is proving to be a highly effective and potential solution to increase the efficiency of solar cells. It would provide the world with a plausible solution to solving our current energy crisis. The large-scale deployment of these solar cells is crucial to solving our energy crisis.

There are two requirements that are linked to the field conditions of solar modules, one is a low health and environmental impact, and the second is the ambient/ultraviolet stability (Tao 2014). Since all modules are exposed to the elements twenty-four hours a day, they are prone to scratches and erosion, which would, in turn, damage their effectiveness. If these solar modules are made up of toxic materials, then these materials could run off the module into the soil around it contaminating the soil, and further, communities water supplies (Tao 2014).

Unfortunately, few solar modules have been out on the field for more than ten years which provides a very limited amount of data on the possibility of this happening. Overall, solar panels are a great solution to the global energy crisis. Despite the use of solar panels on a large scale is a relatively new, and a seemingly daunting task, the efficiency solar panels are increasing with the research being conducted, and new solutions are being found.

The market for solar photovoltaics has recently been on a rapid increase. This rapid improvement in the photovoltaic market started in the 1980s (Razykkov et al., 2011). The increase can be credited to an application of multi-megawatt plants for electrical generation. However, the phenomenal growth of the market can also be credited to higher oil prices. In 2004 the price of an oil barrel was about thirty dollars, and it suffered a significant increase to over one-hundred and forty dollars per barrel in 2008 (Tao 2014).

This is making people and companies consider other, more cost-effective solutions that are not subject to such rapid and unstable fluctuation. Currently, the photovoltaic market can be seen to grow at a rapid rate of thirty-five to forty percent per year (Razykkov et al., 2011). The higher price of oil played a crucial rule in drawing the people’s attention towards the current energy crisis. Unfortunately, the solar energy industry is starting from scratch while the fossil fuel industry is already massive.

Because of the enormity of the fossil fuel industry, it could take many years for solar energy to become a noticeable energy source for the world (Tao 2014). Members of this worlds society have grown up relying on fossil fuels, and many are concerned with the that reducing the coal and natural gas industry will lead to middle-class families being put out of work. Another potential bottleneck to the growth of solar photovoltaics includes things such as the large-scale storage of electricity, the problem of recycling the solar modules, and the overall natural resources of the materials needed.

The potential of photovoltaics is enormous but fully depends on the removal of these roadblocks, including the cost (Tao 2014). The cost now is rather high but is decreasing, this high cost for the natural resources required and the overall maintenance of the modules is the main concern of investing companies. If the materials needed are deep within the earth or in low concentrations, then the cost is driven significantly higher due to the high value and cost of labor to acquire the materials (Tao 2014).

However, these costs are beginning to reduce due to technology improvements, industry investment, and the reduction of the price of polysilicon (Pillai 2015). The only guaranteed way for the cost reduction would be for government policies to be put in place that are geared towards reducing the cost of manufacturing the solar modules required. These policies should target technological developments not only in the solar power industry but should also focus on advancements towards the industries that are manufacturing the equipment required for the development of solar cells (Pillai 2015).

The efficiency of current designs for solar cells is lower than most would hope, if the efficiency is increased using different materials, then the market for solar photovoltaics would continue to increase significantly (Parida et al., 2011). Ever since the discovery of photovoltaics, researchers have been searching for the perfect semi-conductor that meets several requirements that support a large-scale application of solar cell technologies.

These requirements include but are not limited to things such as low-cost materials, an abundance of materials, energy efficient processing, recyclability of unusable solar modules, and high absorption of sunlight (Tao 2014). Unfortunately, since a semiconductor has yet to be found that meets all these requirements, there must be a compromise in which the requirements must be evaluated to prioritize the most important ones while ignoring the others.

Overall, the market of solar photovoltaics shows a high potential for the increase in solar photovoltaics becoming a strong and reliable source for the world’s energy. However, the cost and efficiency of current materials has proven to be roadblocks and are sure to slow the market progression in time. While the cost is an issue, it can be solved through governments integrating several policies that would allow for the technological advances in the manufacturing of solar cells and the acquirement of the materials necessary for the development of solar cells needed to increase the presence of solar energy in our global energy supply.

Solar Photovoltaics is progressively becoming the most effective solution to our world’s energy crisis. Photovoltaics is an extensive, yet effective transformation of direct solar light, into usable energy (Tao 2014). Thanks to Becquerel in 1839, we have the answer to the issue of reliance on fossil fuels (Razykkov et al., 2011).

The worlds current energy sources such as coal and natural gas, are non-renewable and will soon run out, or lead to global warming. The world’s history of fossil fuel usage has already led to significant emissions of carbon dioxide, which is heating up the Earth’s temperature at a rate that far surpasses the Earth’s natural rate (Tao 2014). The Earth and society need solar photovoltaics to be implicated on a large scale, to keep things running smoothly, and diverge from the course of Global Warming. Although solar photovoltaics is an impressive solution to an issue that could end the world as we know it, there are drawbacks. The cost of the manufacturing of solar panels and the mining of the raw materials needed to make solar panels is one issue that is holding this industry back (Pillai 2015).

Further, the perfect semiconductor that could become a perfect material for solar cells, so the industry is forced to sacrifice some of the requirements of a semiconductor (Tao 2014). Some of these existing problems could be solved through government policies being put into place to help promote technological advancements in this industry, to lower costs (Pillai 2015). The market for solar photovoltaics has been growing rapidly, about 35-40% per year, and from this annual increase, solar photovoltaics very well may become a very crucial contributor to our global energy system (Parida et al., 2011).

On a global scale, 10 TW of energy is being used and it is projected to increase to 30 TW by 2050 (Razykkov et al., 2011). The current leading source of energy is fossil fuels, which are non-renewable, will soon run out, and cause pollutants to have a negative effect on the world we live in. It has been predicted that a total of 20 TW of energy, that does not cause carbon dioxide emissions, will be required in order to balance out the carbon dioxide currently present (Tao 2014).

If nothing is done to implement renewable sources, such as the process of solar photovoltaics, then the world as we know it will cease to exist due to rising temperature that would cause massive flooding worldwide due to the polar ice caps melting. With further research, solar energy can very well become a crucial part of the global energy system (Parida et al., 2011). It can be concluded that solar photovoltaics is the Earth’s greatest hope in solving our world energy crisis, while successfully providing energy for our increasing population. The potential of solar photovoltaics is enormous, but our ability to remove the bottlenecks preventing its large-scale deployment could very well decide the future of our planet and species (Tao 2014).

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Solar Energy and Global Energy System. (2021, Sep 23). Retrieved from