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So the research goals for solar energy have been and continue to be: 1.Increase the efficiency of conversion to other forms while also reducing the cost. Store energy more efficiently and reduce the costs. Find newer ways to convert solar energy to useful forms.The present trend in research in PV is focused on using earth abundant materials for PV, since some of the materials in today’s PV panels, such as, Cadmium, Tellurium, Gallium, indium, selenium etc.
Because energy supply facilities typically last several decades, technologies in these classes will dominate solar-powered generation between now and 2050, and we do not attempt to look beyond that date.
Solar energy is such a vast energy resource that it can be used for any of our everyday needs, including electrical power, heating and cooling, water heating, industrial process heat, cooking, transportation, fuel production and even environmental clean-up.
It comes to us as radiation which is pure energy (no mass associated with it), which is the highest form of energy and can be converted to many other forms for our everyday use. However, it is available only during day time, and even during day time it is not available during cloudy and rainy periods.
However, I am confident that CSP will become competitive eventually. It uses the same thermal power conversion as the conventional thermal power (fossil fuel or nuclear based) and can therefore be integrated with the existing power infra-structure easily. It uses thermal energy storage which is about one tenth the cost of battery storage.
In order for CSP to become cost competitive, the conversion efficiencies must increase and the cost must decrease.