solar energy

With the new French President Hollande in charge, and nuclear power far more expensive and unpopular as an alternative, French solar energy may well be positioned to continue to nibble away at nuclear’s dominance.

Dr. Jason Stauth, assistant professor at Dartmouth College, spoke about the potential to improve and expand the use of solar power at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Colloquium last Wednesday on Busch campus.

As the sixth overall global solar PV market in 2012, France is looking toward solar as an energy source to get its country away from nuclear fuel dependency. French president Francois Hollande said last fall he hopes to cut France’s nuclear demand from 75% to 50% by 2025, while in the next few months rolling out a new solar strategy to give underlying support.

He said there has also been an increase of local interest in solar energy. Walmart has installed solar panels on its rooftops and generates 65 megawatts of electricity — enough to power a moderately sized-town of 20,000 homes.

“The inverters [Stauth] was showing on the solar cells were tiny. The typical ones are probably a few cubic feet large when his are a few cubic inches in volume,” Gatdula said.

The two methods to capture solar power are through solar panels and solar thermal collectors, Stauth said. Thermal energy is more efficient, but much more costly, spacious and difficult to improve.

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