Solar photo voltaic power has already proven it can be a cost-effective source of energy, and many of the largest and best performing utility-scale solar farms have achieved grid parity with established fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. In addition, solar power depends on a free input in order to produce a supply of electricity, and operates with zero emissions.
Concentrating solar power, or CSP, is an alternative technology to photovoltaic panels that can even integrate with the same turbines and generators used by fossil fuels for electric power generation. Despite its economic and financial benefits, however, solar power still has one key challenge to overcome: being able to provide energy on demand. For example, the only way to use energy produced by a solar power technology during nighttime is generating it during the day and storing it for later use.
Generation is no longer a problem, since some of the largest solar farms are reaching installed costs as low as $1,300 per kilowatt. On the other hand, storage is still a tricky topic: affordable lead-acid batteries have a short service life and are high-maintenance, while emerging technologies such as lithium-ion and vanadium-redox batteries offer superior performance but at much higher prices.
The area where fossil fuels still beat solar power hands down is in their ability to provide energy exactly when it is required. However, nobody said that you are forced to store the energy from solar power in batteries. Remember that energy can also be stored as temperature difference. This means that if you heat or cool a substance and then place it inside an insulated container, you have cost-effective energy storage. When you think about it, electric power is almost always converted to another form by electrical devices: lamps turn it into light, air conditioners use it to lower room temperature, fans turn it into air motion, and electric motors turn it into torque.
Solar power proves to be a very flexible technology, capable of integrating with various types of electrical devices, including refrigeration equipment. You can also get the benefits of solar power for your home, achieving a solid return on investment and long-term savings. Just have a chat with our experts to learn more about the technology and also to get in touch with the top solar contractors near you.