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Abstract Solar energy is renewable energy that comes from the sun. The paper tries to focus on the new advancement in solar energy technology. However, advancement in solar energy comes with problems for instance the collection and distribution of this energy harnessed from the sun. it further evaluates the problem by exploring the technology used to promote efficiency in solar power collection and storage. On the literature review, the study focuses on how other authors and researchers have developed and enhanced solar energy. The methodology used is extensive research on the problem statement and the findings are crucial because they have thoroughly depicted all the advances both present and futuristic in terms of solar energy usage. The most intriguing aspect of this study is how solar harvesting has been adopted by the architecture industry by incorporating windows as solar harvesting panels. Finally, the conclusion clearly stipulates highlights the subject of study as well as giving a prediction of future solar power usage based on the findings.
Introduction
Solar energy is renewable energy derived from the sun’s rays. This energy is in the form of heat and light, it is collected by solar panels which convert them into useful energy. It has two forms, passive and active solar energy. Passive solar energy is the direct use of solar power in practical form, for instance, the use of solar panels to redirect light into crops. Active solar energy is the use of solar panels to covert the heat and light into direct current. Solar energy is limitless. Scientists have come to find out that the solar radiation that reaches the earth on a single calendar year is 10,000 times of the energy needs all over the planet (Richards 2009). these diagrams shows the most common sources of renewable energy, solar and wind energy.

Solar energy is not without problems, with the main areas that need attention being collection of energy, its distribution and storage. The technological breakthroughs that have been made on solar energy over the years have proved to be too costly and inefficient. The cells tend to be bulky, and the amount of electricity harnessed from the cells is small, although with technological advances this number has significantly risen (Armentrout 2009). The photovoltaic cells are made of silicon and act like semi conductors where there is a movement of positively and negatively charged electrons. When the sun rays hit the cells, a large portion is absorbed by the semi conductor material making them move freely, the energy produced is in the form of direct current. This creates a further challenge in cost of installing solar panels because for home uses the current has to be converted into alternating current, hence the need to buy conversion devices. This has also led to the implementation of solar use to appear impractical on a large scale (Goswami 2007).
The use of batteries to store the electricity produced by the solar panels has been a major stumbling block in solar energy advancements, previously batteries were bulky and could not store enough power to serve even the basic electricity needs of a family. But recently, major developments have been made to solve this issue of power storage in batteries. Researchers from the Harvard University report that they have developed a new battery system that can store electricity for a couple of days, the batteries are very essential to store power generated from Solar panels and wind. The battery is based on a specific organic molecule called a quinone that is commonly found in plants like the rhubarb, this organic molecule can also be synthesized from crude oil. The molecules have the capability to reduce the costs of energy storage materials by two thirds.
Quinone is extremely cheap compared to Vanadium which is the component that’s currently in the market for the manufacture of flow batteries. It costs about 80 dollars per kilowatt hour making the targets set by the U.S department of energy unattainable. Professor Michael Aziz of the Harvard University says that quinones brings down the cost of storage materials to 27 dollars per kilowatt hour, this compared to other advancements made in lowering the cost of the whole system makes the targets reachable. The battery made from these cheap but efficient materials is called a flow battery and it is the best suited for storing large energy amounts.
The flow battery stores the energy in large tanks in liquid form, and they have been found to be very efficient managing the power grid. It’s been used practically in Japan for that purpose. The flow battery’s main drawback is cost with the storage capacity charge going for 700 dollars per kilowatt hour making it uneconomical. There is a high need to bring down the cost, with the U.S department of energy suggesting that for this technology to be economical the costs have to come down to 100 dollars per kilowatt hour. This way, they will be able to solve problems such as, intermittency of power sources such as solar, reduce the number of power plants by helping them operate more efficiently all this will help in cleaning up the environment because of the increased use in renewable energy. The Harvard researchers are the first to demonstrate that high performance flow batteries can use organic molecules in place of metal ions. The quinones also leave space for modification and this can be exploited to improve efficiency while reducing costs. Much more needs to be done because as of now the researchers have only managed to use the quinones on the negative part of the battery. The positive side uses a different component called bromine which is toxic and corrosive, it needs to be replaced and the researchers are at work developing new versions of the quinones that can be used on the positive side. how the flow battery works
Other storage solutions have been developed by a company known as CSP (concentrating solar power), who can produce solar energy even when there is no sun, like when it’s cloudy or at night (Solarpoweristhefuture.com 2014). CSP use the heat from the sun for boiling of water, the steam produced from this process is used to turn steam turbines. The electricity is stored in large containers in the form of molten salt, used in times of high demand to repeat the cycle of boiling water and turn the turbines. But in order to produce the lowest electricity clear skies are essential to get the full effect of solar radiation. For instance, findings in the United States have found Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico. Other places around the world include Middle East, Northern Africa, East and Southern Africa, some places of Spain and the outback of Australia (Waite 2011).
Researchers from the University of Manitoba have developed nanostructured semi conductors. These are conductors that create electricity and light by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. They have managed to develop an artificial photosynthetic system All this has been developed to use the solar energy in times of low sun. Other storage options which could improve the efficiency of solar energy are the use of conducting magnets, capacitors and flywheels (Pulakat 2012).
Another way in which solar energy can be stored is by the generation of hydrogen as a fuel. This is done by the electrolysis of water. The hydrogen is later used to power fuel cells, and this way electricity produced is green. This fuels cells are stored, making distribution easy. New findings have also been developed to ensure the durability of the solar cells by solid state dye-sensitization of solar cells. With time solar cells suffer from degradation, resulting in low electricity production. The degradation is caused by natural factors such as the exposure to air and light. The coatings made on the surface of the cells make them more durable (Waite 2011).
In conclusion, the new developments in solar energy have led to the growth of its use worldwide with major companies adopting this source of energy. A company such as Heliatek which is based in Germany has installed panels that achieve an efficiency percentage of 8%. The use of solar windows has led to the acceptance of this technology due to their cheap costs and easy installation. And with the constant rise in production of solar energy and efficiency percentage, the need for proper storage has to be fully addressed like the development of flow batteries that are cheaper and more efficient than the previous models. It’s estimated that by the year 2030, green energy in the form of solar energy will serve 9 percent of the world. This technology is essential in meeting goals such as the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.

Works Cited
Richards, Julie. Solar Energy. 1st ed. New York: Marshall Benchmark Publishers, 2009. Print.
Armentrout, David, and Patricia Armentrout. Solar Energy. 1st ed. Vero Beach, Fla.: Rourke
Pub., 2009. Print.
Kalogirou, Soteris. Solar Energy Engineering. 1st ed. Academic Press, 2009. Print.
Waite, Ozie. Advances In Solar Power. 1st ed. New Delhi: World Technologies, 2011. Print.
Goswami, D. Yogi. Advances In Solar Energy. 1st ed. London: Earthscan in association with
The American Solar Energy Society, 2007. Print.
Pulakat, Hari. 'Future Of Solar Power: How About Transparent Solar Cells That Can Be Put On
Windows?'. The Economic Times. N. p., 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.
Levitan, Dave. 'Solar Windows: Transforming Buildings Into Energy Producers: Yale
Environment 360'. E360.yale.edu. N. p., 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.
Solarpoweristhefuture.com,. 'Problems With Solar Energy'. N. p., 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2014.…...

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