Sun, The Savior
I very strongly believe that solar energy is still the way to go. I will not be going over previous points, so if you haven’t read my ideas on the presidential debate, subsidies, and solar competitiveness, you can read that here. Not even mentioning its availability, solar energy is a very clean, renewable source of energy. A coal burning plant typically produces 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year. Nationally, more than 75% of this waste is disposed of in unlined, unmonitored onsite landfills and surface impoundments. In the process of solar energy, there is no place where ash and sludge is produced, and it is very clean.
Solar power is also a very renewable source. All of the power comes from the sun, and last time I checked we don’t have to pay for that. Yes it is expensive to install, but if you invest in solar once, the energy is unlimited–meaning that these payments will be paid back in due time. The price is also going even lower because of advances in technology. HUGE advances.
Scientists at Stanford University took it upon themselves to create the first solar cell made completely out of carbon. This cell is the very first demonstration of a solar cell of its type. This innovation is a big deal because instead of the already existing and expensive rigid silicon solar panels, you have this flexible thin film prototype, which will reduce costs by a lot. It will reduce the cost in two ways. First carbon is everywhere, which will reduce costs. Second, the silicon solar panels (the old ones) use the same photoactive layer as touchscreens do–meaning that this material is becoming even more expensive with the growth of smartphones and tablets.
This is a major step in the right direction. There is a big difference between really-cool-but-too-expensive-to-be-a-reality-solar-panels and small developments like these cells that lead to big change.