Solar power is highly efficient
Solar power is in everything from phone chargers to large corporations. Alternative power is increasing in popularity for both person and professional use. While solar power is often thought to be more energy efficient, solar panels have a hard time capturing and converting sunlight into electricity.
According to researcher Sean Everett, the best efficiency rating we’ve been able to attain in regards to solar panels is around 22%; which means we’re only capturing about a quarter of the sun’s energy that hits a solar panel. So why continue to pursue solar technology? Everything improves with time.
He observes the concept of the “edge,” especially where solar technology is concerned. Once the technology is advanced to a point where it is on the “edge” and easily accessible, rather than restricted to private consumers or federal utility companies, the technology will come into its own. It will be a true contender to the oil and gas industry and become more efficient than the 22% I mentioned above.
What does the “edge” really mean?
A bare-bones definition of the “edge,” to borrow a technology reference, is storing the same files in multiple locations, to ensure it can be quickly and easily accessed. By storing the same file in many different locations, it will load from the nearest location to your current position and allow you faster access to the information you need. So how does this translate to solar technology? Remember those slightly inefficient solar panels? Tesla plans to change how they work.
Tesla wants to “edge” solar power for their electric cars
Tesla believes fervently in solar power. You can use sunlight to store power into batteries; those batteries can then be used to power cars, technology, and homes. Instead of using the solar power immediately, Tesla believes in storing it, so the power can be used over time. This allows consumers to use it when it’s convenient. Tesla wants to install solar panel on the roofs of their cars, why?
As Tesla continues to innovate the electric car, the cars will need power. To store the power they need batteries and since all batteries eventually run out of power, the next logical step is charging stations. What if these stations could be solar powered? Better yet, what if you could install an extra battery that connects to the solar panels on your roof to be used when your battery runs down? This is Tesla’s strategy: use the sun to power what you need when you need it by innovating effective solar panels and batteries to get the job done.
Where the “edge” for solar technology is in how it’s stored (to make it more easily accessible and useful), the “edge” for Tesla is humans. We must install the necessary solar panels, then buy the a car, but Tesla is giving their consumers the “edge” by giving them a way to create their own power, without the need for fossil fuel.
Apple’s on the “edge” too?
Apple has a similar approach to what they consider the “edge.” They also consider humans to be at the center of the Apple experience, however, they differ from Tesla in that they want every single human to have an optimized, engaged experience with Apple’s products. Humans generate power for the device, the device keeps the human engaged, and Apple uses the information collected from the device to power the human’s continued engagement with said device (and the circle continues).
So what does this have to do with solar power? Apple devices take power to work. If you’re on the “edge” of solar technology, you’re producing your own power and lowering your costs. Freeing up more money that can be (in theory) spent elsewhere; if you’re using the sun to power your transportation, you’re free from paying for gas (again freeing up money). More money freed up is more money that can be spent elsewhere.
While the realist in me realizes it’s highly unlikely, the Romantic in me would like to think that if solar technology advances the way in which Tesla and Apple would like it to, to the point where we can “edge” power, people will use it because it’s better for the environment and easier to access. While we still have a way to go before we get to that point, continued innovation is the key to making solar power sustainable, accessible, and economical. Tesla and Apple seem to be headed in the right direction. What do you think?