The Sun Rises on Solar Power

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Sunshine State: The University of California's Solar Breakthroughs

As nature calls time on fossil fuels, researchers at the University of California are finding credible alternatives to oil and coal. It's solar power's time to shine.

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We’re running out of fossil fuels and the search is on for clean alternatives. Wind, waves and hydrogen have all grabbed recent headlines, but University of California researchers are bringing back the original renewable energy source: solar power.

The sun-based energy source has some serious advantages over other renewable fuels. The most significant pro is that there are no emissions. No pollutants or byproducts that affect the atmosphere. Solar energy is clean and can be produced without waste.

Its biggest achilles heel is one that it shares with other alternatives. With current technology, it produces relatively little energy compared to traditional energy sources, making it less cost effective.

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By re-thinking how we gather, store and use solar energy, Univerisity of California researchers are making solar power the best choice in many scenarios.

Researchers at the University are so convinced that the sun’s energy is tomorrow’s fuel that a multi-campus group has been set-up to investigate. UC Solar develops technologies that make power from the sun a cleaner and cheaper contender.

“Solar is our most abundant and reliable form of renewable energy, and, when used effectively, it has the potential to meet most, if not all, of our energy needs,” said Professor Roland Winston, a solar energy specialist at UC Merced and director of UC Solar.

Better Batteries

Advances in storage and increased energy efficiency are the bread and butter of the research at UC Solar—the core developments that drive its credibility.

At UC Riverside, researchers are working on enhanced battery and thermal storage technologies. The sun has plenty of power to give, but not everywhere is sunny.

So, improving battery technology enables solar cells to gather a surplus of energy, ready for use when you are.