Scheer, Herman. The Solar Economy: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable Global Future. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd, 2002. Print.
Energy is stored in the “grid,” that is currently holding energy from coal, oil, and natural gas power. In Mr. Scheer’s book, the idea of intermixing excess solar power into the current energy grid is discussed. A huge current issue with solar power especially BIPV’s, is that once the energy is used, if there’s any excess, storage for when you need that energy is not really an option. For instance, PV solar power is awesome when it’s sunny, but what happens on a rainy day if a home is fueled only by solar power and there are no reserves of energy? There’s no power, another con of many renewable resources. Finding an economically feasible way to store energy is necessary if the market for renewable resources can expand.
Another interesting issue discussed, was the potential for PV panels to replace batteries altogether. PV panels do not ever run out of energy like a battery does, and thus is not environmentally damaging like battery waste is. In 1978, there was a plan to industrialized PV power in America which was approved, but was never acted upon or implemented. In my opinion there was not a company or supporter financially able to take the plan into action. Perhaps revisiting that initiative would provide results in the new era of energy that is upon us.
The next energy issue is the stand-by mode on a large majority of appliances and devices that are always left plugged in. It costs the average household $55 dollars to keep on all of their appliances in stand-by mode. “Germany wastes about 20 billion KWH annually on stand- by functions,” an amount that adds up to almost 2 billion dollars. With the technology we currently have, there is no need for this wastefulness, but we can instead use new innovations to conserve. For instance a microwave that is always plugged in and shows the time, is constantly using energy, even if it is only a little amount, it adds up over time. Installing PV panels onto the microwaves could cover at minimum the energy required to run the microwave in stand-by mode. “No economic factors are holding development back” Mr. Scheer argues, it is only our lack of imagination that is stopping us from this change.
As I mentioned earlier, PV electricity storage is very limited, but the extra power produced, does not flow into the central energy grid as most types of energy do. One of the main reasons for this is the electricity providers don’t want their business to be taken away and have almost created a monopoly on the centralized power grid. Big appliance makers like Phillips have stopped working on PV powered technology because of the limitations produced by the energy grid. This is where government involvement is perhaps the only option for a more PV friendly future.
Lastly, isolation of solar power issues is a current problem with environmental legislation, meaning, that laws must be made in the correct way in order for them to be effective. Unfortunately, lawmakers aren’t making laws based off the overarching problem but off of little issues that contribute to the big problem.
To pull all of this together, there are many things individuals could do to help improve the current types of energy being used, and there are many things the government could do as well. In order to move forward, we must move together with the same goals for the future, which is why I believe that energy education is crucial for the future of renewable energy.