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Solar Electricity Installation on the Rise

Several significant statistics suggest that use of solar energy is growing tremendously, particularly in residential usage and among middle class Americans.

In the first quarter of 2014, solar energy made up a whopping 74 percent of the nation’s new electric generation. This figure is a part of a steadily growing trend that shows that more and more solar energy is being used Sun Rise on Solar Powernationwide.

In addition, in early 2014, commercial solar energy projects were surpassed by residential solar power installations for the first time in history. This suggests that the solar energy trend has extended from corporate and commercial interests to homeowners, and that an increasing number of homes are relying on solar energy for some portion of their power usage.

Furthermore, the Center for American Progress reported that over 60 percent of residential solar installations are currently occurring in zip codes in which the median income is between $40,000 and $90,000. This statistic supports the idea that solar power is no longer merely an option for the wealthy, but has made its way to the average home and will continue to do so in greater frequency. Experts predict that by 2016, more than half of homebuilders in America will at least offer customers the option of a solar installation with their home—a significant increase from the 12 percent who did so in 2013.  The challenge in places like Texas has been the cheap electricity rates brought about by the abundance of natural gas.  This makes it all the more difficult for solar energy to compete on price.

 

 

Photosynthesis Informs Solar Energy Production

photosynthesisA biological phenomenon related to photosynthesis is showing scientists that plants are actually using quantum mechanics to take sunlight and turn it into energy. Cells absorb photons and transmit energy after they have absorbed the light.

Scientists have been trying to replicate this process in solar cells in order to make them more efficient, but there is nothing more than a toy model at this point.  The scientists are hoping that these models can help to improve the output that is generated from solar cells.

The idea behind these tests is that the energy conversion can be raised by 35% when the scientists can apply these principles to solar cells.  However, the technology has not been perfected.  Scientists believe that they must study every part of the system in order to figure out how the plant systems work.

With the hope of increased production, scientists may be able to crack the code on solar energy efficiency.