Sustainable energy is one of the most important issues in modern civilization. Most nations rely on oil and natural gas for producing energy. A few countries such as France is willing to utilize atomic power plants. But the serious risk of leak of radioactive substance occurred in Fukushima makes citizens and politicians hesitate to trust its safety.
In contrast, solar power is completely clean and renewable energy source. The sun produces unlimited power on earth, at least for million years. It is a dream for the human to use the solar power for our daily life.
Recently, a Japanese company rewrote the record of the photo-conversion efficiency of the silicon solar panel. Conventional panels can convert the sunlight into energy by 10-20%, depending on the quality of the panel. The conversion rate of the newly product is over 25%. Its potential reaches up to 30%.
Independent: Record-breaking solar panel converts more than a quarter of sunlight into electricity
It is an innovation. However, there is a gap before its commercial use. The cost for creating highly qualified panel is not negligible.
Also, another issue around solar power is downtime. It is evident that a solar panel makes no energy at midnight. Thus, the conversion rate should be considered as less than a half of its potential. Furthermore, the efficiency can be limited on a cloudy day. It is the reason why solar power is never a dominant solution in the energy issue.
Nonetheless, the technology for improved efficiency is hopeful. There are no rooms of innovation for steam and water power plants. Solar panels will not replace other power plants but add some options for our energy strategy.