Solar panels, as we know them have been around since the 1950s, when the first silicon photovoltaic cell was developed in the US. They are now a common sight on the rooves of houses, some transport vehicles, calculators, and speed cameras. There is even a government-backed scheme offering large cash incentives to convert your home to solar power. But how to they work?
Over the last decade, unprecedented spikes in oil prices
have made it clear that our current dependence on polluting, non-renewable
fossil fuels is no longer a viable solution to meeting our energy needs. But in
the search for energy alternatives, it is sometimes difficult to get a balanced
perspective on how practical, clean, or sustainable our energy alternatives
really are. Many sources of information are propagated by the industries they
support; other sources are promoted by those determined to nay-say every
alternative energy option by blowing the drawbacks out or proportion and
ignoring the advantages of these options relative to our current fossil fuel
dependence. Amid all the noise and competing agendas, it can be difficult to
discern the true, scientific facts in their proper context.