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Q & A: storing solar energy

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Iíve been told that solar energy cannot be stored. But couldnít this energy be coinverted into another form and then be stored.
- Steven Groves (age 16)
Jamaica
A:

You’re right. For example electricity generated with solar energy can be used to charge batteries. In fact, almost all the energy we use comes from plants (sometimes long-dead plants, turned into coal or oil) and the energy of those plants was supplied by the Sun, and stored in chemical forms.

Mike W,


(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: solar economics

Q:
Scince this is the case, why arenít solar panels used more regularly. Are they expensive to make? Do they produce little energy? Do they wear out?
- Steven Groves (age 16)
Jamaica
A:
yes, the big problem currently with solar panels is that they are expensive to make, measured in cost per watt produced. I'm not sure  how sturdy they are under realistic use conditions.

If the price of energy keeps going up and the panel production costs go down a bit more, solar panels may become much more economically appealing. Even with solar panels, however, a key step will have to be reduction of energy consumption, since we don't want to cover all of, say, Nevada, with solar panels.

Mike W. 

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.