Invisible Dust

London | Tuesday 16 July
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Invisible Dust Recommends #15 – Solar Power & It’s Obstacles



Solar power has become the cheapest source of energy in the last few years, the production of solar cells and panels has become cheap and accessible, in countries where electricity can be scarce in rural areas, such as India, people have been able to make their own solar panels and generate their own power.

Solar power has seen huge investment from countries and energy companies around the world, roughly totaling at around 280 billion dollars in the last 2 years. However, while the price and massive ecological benefits have not been questioned, the practicalities of supplying a national grid has been one of the major criticisms of solar power.

Solar power cannot accurately regulate the amount of power it generates as the amount of sun across a week cannot be controlled. As a result the supply and demand  nature of electricity can’t be as efficiently controlled as conventional fossil fuels.

A full explanation of this issue is outlined in this Business Insider article from 2013:

Solar Power Could Be A Total Game-changer — But They Still Need To Figure Out One Thing 

and here from IEEE Spectrum in 2016:

Batteries Need to Get Big—Like, Enormous—for Solar Power to Shine

The low capacity of solar power means, storage has now become solar power’s biggest obstacle, it needs to be able to store large amounts of energy for a long time in order to distribute power back to the grid when its required. However, energy companies are also a major hindrance, because those with solar panels on their houses or organisations with them on their buildings demand less electricity from the grid and then require a reduction in their bills for returning energy to the grid, these companies now charge a premium for using solar power.

More explanation on this issue can be found here, referring to the situation in the U.S

Solar Power Is Cheaper, but the World Is Still Running on Fossil Fuels

These practical issues are soon to be overcome, Tesla in particular have been developing, producing and implementing huge lithium storage batteries to combat solar’s storage problem, available on large commercial scales (below) or for private use.


In addition, issues with distribution of power from various locations as part of a more connected and coherent solar power system are being developed all the time, including this project from MIT:

Virtual Power Plants Get Around Solar Power’s Intermittency Problem



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