The immense solar power concentrated in the sun has fascinated man since the dawn of time with the dream of tapping this vast source of energy remaining his burning ambition. Though the complete replacement of fossil fuels by the use of the suns inexhaustible power supply remains the stuff of science fiction, today with the help of advanced technology great strides have been made in attaining this dream though a lot still remains to be done.
As a testament to these strides, this month the world’s largest solar power plant officially started generating energy in California. The plant is capable of producing 392MW of solar energy to power 140,000 homes and thus replace 400,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Though the plant has been criticized for producing energy at a cost four times the cost of conventional energy from thermal plants it does mark a milestone in the development of solar energy.
Research focused on lowering the cost and improving efficiencies promises to further make solar power more popular in the market. This includes the use of innovative materials such as ultra thin film-type solar cells which are flexible and adaptable for use in corners, curvilinear and other structures. Today almost 20 percent of global solar power generation is done by these thin-film solar cells and this market is expected to grow.
In this issue we look at recent trends and solar products available to the Africa market where the sun is plentiful all year round.
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