Explore More | Energy | Part 4: Solar Power

Explore More | Energy | Part 4: Solar Power


LET’S START WITH A RED-HOT
RENEWABLE… SOLAR POWER. JUST AS PLANTS CONVERT
SUNLIGHT INTO ENERGY TO GROW, SUNLIGHT CAN ALSO BE
CONVERTED INTO ELECTRICITY. INSTEAD OF USING A GENERATOR
TO PRODUCE THE POWER, SPECIAL CONVERTORS
CALLED PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS CHANGE THE SUN’S RAW ENERGY
INTO USABLE ELECTRICITY. COMPANIES LIKE
THIN FILM TECHNOLOGIES IN IOWA ARE ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF
SOLAR CELL MANUFACTURING, MAKING THEM MORE POWER EFFICIENT
AND MORE COST EFFECTIVE. COMPANY FOUNDER FRANK JEFFREY
SLOWED DOWN LONG ENOUGH TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE COOL
WAYS THEIR CELLS CAN BE USED.>>THERE’S AN EXPEDITION
GOING AT MOUNT EVEREST THAT HAS SOME OF OUR MODULES
MOUNTED ON A TENT FOR POWER. IT’S MOSTLY FOR CHARGING THE
BATTERY PACKS OR VIDEO UNITS THAT ARE GOING
UP ON EXPEDITION. SO THERE ARE A LOT OF
PORTABLE-TYPE APPLICATIONS. LONG-TERM, WHAT WE
ARE SHOOTING FOR IS WHAT WE CALL THE
BUILDING INTEGRATED MARKET, WHERE THE PHOTO CELLS
ARE MOUNTED INTO THE BUILDING PANELS THEMSELVES.>>MIKE KAPPUS RUNS A MUSIC
AGENCY IN SAN FRANCISCO. HIS PANELS AREN’T MOUNTED
IN
THE ROOF BUTONTHE ROOF.>>WE’VE GOT 96 PANELS HERE. WHEN IT WAS INSTALLED LAST YEAR, IT WAS THE LARGEST SOLAR
INSTALLATION IN SAN FRANCISCO. IT PROVIDES ALL OF
OUR ENERGY NEEDS AND THEN SOME
DURING THE DAY. WE DON’T HAVE STORAGE
FOR ELECTRICITY OR BATTERIES THAT WE CHARGE UP SO WE DO DRAW OFF
THE GRID DURING THE NIGHT. THE OVERALL NET RESULT IS WE ARE
GENERATING MORE ELECTRICITY OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR
THAN WE’RE USING. SO WE’RE ACTUALLY SUPPLYING
A SURPLUS BACK INTO THE GRID FOR CALIFORNIA.>>WHICH IS WHY,
IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, YOU’LL SEE THEIR METER IS
ACTUALLY RUNNING BACKWARDS. ASK KAPPUS WHY SOLAR AND YOU’LL GET A PASSIONATE
PITCH FOR THIS RENEWABLE.>>SOMEBODY ASKED ME,
“WHY DID YOU GO WITH SOLAR?” I THINK THE QUESTION IS:
WHY WOULD YOUNOTGO WITH SOLAR. SOLAR ENERGY IS CREATED
DURING THE DAYTIME ONLY, BUT THAT’S THE GREATEST
TIME OF NEED FOR ELECTRICITY, SO YOU’RE CREATING ELECTRICITY
AT THE TIME IT’S MOST NEEDED SO WE CAN AVOID THE
PRODUCTION OF POWER PLANTS. WE CAN AVOID DRILLING OIL IN
ALASKA OR OFF OUR COASTLINE, KNOWING THAT YOU CAN
CREATE YOUR OWN ENERGY WITH NO POLLUTION WHATSOEVER FOR AN INDEFINITE
PERIOD OF TIME. YOU CAN CONTINUE TO
PRODUCE ELECTRICITY WITH NO HARMFUL EFFECT
TO THE ENVIRONMENT. I WANTED TO DO THAT.>>WHILE SUNLIGHT
ITSELF IS FREE, THERE IS A COST ASSOCIATED
WITH SOLAR POWER. PURCHASING THE PV CELL SYSTEMS
CAN BE QUITE EXPENSIVE, ESPECIALLY ON A SCALE
LARGE ENOUGH TO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS
OF ELECTRICITY. DESIGN IMPROVEMENTS AND
INCREASED MANUFACTURING COULD BRING THOSE COSTS DOWN. CURRENTLY SOLAR POWER ACCOUNTS
FOR LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF ALL THE ELECTRICITY
GENERATED IN THE UNITED STATES, A NUMBER JEFFREY, KAPPUS, AND
MANY OTHERS HOPE WILL INCREASE.

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