Wherever the Sun Shines
The incredible availability of light, which is a great advantage of solar energy, will be exploited in the future. On Earth, CVCs will be installed in deserts, near the equator, and at the North and South Poles, where land area is not used and the sun shines for long hours. The North and South Poles may be ideal places to set up the solar cells, since the temperature is low and high concentrations of UV light can strike the cell (due to the deterioration of the ozone layer). In both developed and undeveloped countries, inexpensive CVCs will be placed on nearly all house rooftops. Skyscrapers will employ CVCs on their walls and roofs, with semi-transparent cells replacing glass as windows. For camping, tents made of CVC “skin” (highly flexible and thin) will provide campers with electricity (but hopefully will not ruin the camping experience).
One major problem with solar cells at present is their uselessness at night and on cloudy days. With the assembly manipulation of CVCs, they will still function effectively in low-intensity light, such as on cloudy days. To receive energy overnight, a certain amount of energy obtained in the morning can be stored chemically for use at night. The electricity produced can electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen gas for use in fuel cells, for example.
CVCs will also reform the aerospace industry. These high-efficiency solar cells will be used to power satellites and space shuttles extensively. In space, CVCs will be even more efficient and practical, since sunlight is a constant source of energy and more abundant (no atmospheric scattering and day-night factors). The life span of the cell, however, will be preserved by its high durability. Solar satellites could orbit the Earth collecting the sunlight via CVC “sails” and transmit the energy to the surface by converting it into microwaves (Fig. 3). The light-exposed surfaces of space structures such as stations and telescopes could be covered with thin, flexible CVC “skins” to generate energy. In addition, space colonies could use CVCs as ceilings to produce electricity while shielding inhabitants from harmful radiation.
By the year 2020, CVCs will be sold as both flexible rolls and hard sheets, and will cost a few dollars per square meter, or around 5˘/kWh. With high durability and virtually no maintenance, the CVC will be an ideal energy source wherever the sun shines.