The sun is a major source of energy producing radiant energy and producing over 12.2 GWh of energy per 200 million square miles daily. Man has continued to harness the sun's energy for various purposes such as conversion into other forms of energy or heating. Solar energy is a renewable form of energy and so it is one of the best sources of energy around.
Given all these facts, the question arises: "How efficient is solar energy technology?" Harnessing solar energy for use may seem pretty easy to do given the fact that solar panels are available but this is not the case. The silicon material(semiconductor), a major component of the photocells used in solar panels give back 10-20% of the energy that they absorb from the sun. Losing close to 90% of energy absorbed is a major issue coupled with the fact that these materials are expensive to produce.
As an electrical engineer, this challenge will definitely push me to find out solutions to solar energy efficiency in the nearest future. Recent advancements in technology show that better materials can be used to harness the sun's energy and still gain but they are quite expensive. For example, nanotechnology is being suggested as a way of improving the microstructure of photocells to allow better efficiency. I can engineer a material that will be very efficient and very cost effective in absorbing the sun's energy. The problem of low efficiency of solar panels will definitely pave way for research and labor within the engineering job market. Many engineers will be engaged in finding the suitable materials to harness solar energy as job opportunities will increase. On the global scale, this challenge will cause a major loss of energy, time and funds if it is not dealt with.