Our Energy Future: Solar Power

In 2007, the Discovery Channel aired a three-part special called 2057 , in which futurists and scientists theorized about how life would change and improve over the next 50 years.

One of the parts of the special, titled 2057: The World, explored how humanity would obtain energy to fuel our civilization. The episode followed a fictitious story line where astronauts aboard a space station were trying to develop solar panels that were much more efficient than today’s panels.

Modern solar panels are only 14-18% efficient because the material (silicon) used only absorbs a fraction of the power of sunlight. Current prototypes in developement are expected to raise the efficiency to nearly 40%. However, to compete with the power derived from fossil fuels, solar power efficiency has to be at least 50%.

Thankfully, in the Netherlands, scientists are working on creating an entirely new, super-efficient material for solar power. The promise: 80% efficiency. Say goodbye to the old days of dirty oil and coal.

Here’s a clip of the episode.

If you would like to continue watching the rest of the episode (to see what happens next!), simply select the “Watch on YouTube” icon on the bottom right of the clip. From YouTube you can select the other “parts” of the episode.