One of the biggest problems facing the use of solar power as a viable means of replacing fossil fuels is the fact that the sun disappears at night. There have been no efficient or easy ways to store the energy produced for use during the darker hours. This, despite the fact that in the space of one hour, the amount of sunlight that hits the surface of the Earth is enough to power the planet for a year.
However a new discovery by MIT researchers has been made, that will essentially make this problem nonexistent.
The news has been a big hit all over the net, but we decided we’d take a quick look at it anyway. And though I could probably try and summarize it for you, MIT’s Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science, will do it much better.
“This is the nirvana of what we’ve been talking about for years,” said Nocera, adding that “solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon.”
“This is a major discovery with enormous implications for the future prosperity of humankind,” said James Barber, the Ernst Chain Professor of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. “The importance of their discovery cannot be overstated since it opens up the door for developing new technologies for energy production thus reducing our dependence for fossil fuels and addressing the global climate change problem.”
And according to Nocera, “This is just the beginning.” He hopes that within 10 years, homeowners will be powering their own homes during the daylight hours using photovoltaic cells, and using the combination of hydrogen and oxygen at night when the sun disappears.
Needless to say, for once, a renewable energy source finally seems viable. No need for square kilometers set aside for giant solar panel installations. This discovery will mean that each house will have their own little power generation, which could even extend to powering their electric car. This could totally remove the need for the traditional electricity pumped in to our houses by giant towers and kilometers of wire.
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