Solar energy dawned way back during the 1980's or a bit earlier as solar water heaters were the rage then. It was cheap to get. Photovoltaic was still too expensive at around $20 or more per watt but promises were made to lower it further .
Fast forward to now, photovoltaic is 50 cents per watt not including installment extras and even federal energy credits is phasing out in a few years from now. Success story?
Not quite. solar energy is primarily a form of heat and light in a kind of quantum function. It is interesting enough that light as in photons and electricity as in electrons are functioning in similar ways. Sunlight started entering the atmosphere of Earth at much hotter temperature above 200 or 300 degree F . Sunlight still retain some heat as it hits ground but we don't feel it during windy days or freezing days even with the sun shining. Once it pass a glass pane enclosure, heat quickly build up to 200 degree F or more if it is placed perpendicular toward the sunlight direction. If you tilt it a few degrees, heat get reflected and wasted or lost.
Now if we develop solar furnaces as supplement to our traditional natural gas fired central furnaces or heating oil fired ones as well. We can drastically reduce our consumption considerably. For any of you who are greatly concerned about fracking technologies being used by the producers, you cannot simply fall back on firewood. You should also be aware that firewood is the worst air pollutant above all including coal that is being used in power plants with billions of dollars worth of pollution controls installed. Firewood is a open ended air pollutant that threats public health on a daily basis.
Remember healthcare costs so therefore firewood drives healthcare costs up faster . So for any of you who are not happy with our healthcare system and the costs , high deductibles, etc, it is probably time to start looking back to our Sun for our heating needs on top of our recent success with photovoltaic. Heating requires colossal amounts of energy that photovoltaic alone would be hard pressed to deliver due to lower efficiency in conversion to electricity. so it is more efficient to use direct sunlight and figure out new ways to redirect, concentrate, bend, twist, loop sunlight in any way possible. There is almost negligent losses in conversion of sunlight through direct applications without any unnecessary conversion to electricity at all. Example: you can dry your clothes with sunlight if we can design clothes dryers to run on sunlight alone. It can be done.
We are supposed to be highly adaptable creatures on Earth thanks to our high intelligent brains.. Why we still use firewood for thousands of years is something to think about or wonder about like why we still do such things ? We are not coughing cavemen , anymore, are we?
In short, we hardly tapped the mighty power of our Sun at all. Don't be afraid... embrace the Sun with our wide open arms and more mirrors!
Lets do it!