The Generation of Pollution-Free Electrical Power From Solar Energy

[+] Author and Article Information
W. R. Cherry

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

J. Eng. Power 94(2), 78-82 (Apr 01, 1972) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3445661 History: Received July 26, 1971; Online July 14, 2010


Projections of the U. S. electrical power demands over the next 30 years indicate that the U. S. could be in grave danger from power shortages, undesirable effluence, and thermal pollution. A pollution free method of converting solar energy directly into electrical power using photovoltaics on the ground shows that sunlight falling on about 1 percent of the land area of the 48 states could provide the total electrical power requirements of the U. S. in the year 1990. By utilizing and further developing some NASA technology, a new source of electrical power will become available. Such a development is attractive from conservation, social, ecological, economic, and political standpoints. While the cost of producing solar arrays by today’s methods prohibits their use for large scale terrestrial plants, the paper suggests how the cost may become acceptable, especially as conventional fuels become scarcer and more expensive. Some of the desirable reasons for developing methods to convert solar energy to electrical power are: to conserve our fossil fuels for more sophisticated uses than just burning, to reduce atmospheric pollution by 20 percent, to convert low productive land areas into high productive land areas, to make the U. S. less dependent upon foreign sources of energy, and to learn to utilize our most abundant inexhaustable natural resource.

Copyright © 1972 by ASME
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