Technology assessment: Solar power technology


Performing research for technology assessment

Conducting a study for solar power technology assessment is a complex process that requires the considerations of various factors and issues. Key among the challenges arising from the research include the scope of the technology. Different users of the technology have a different affinity with small-scale users demanding solar panels for domestic use while industrial consumers demanding for large-scale installment (Bailey, 2014). In such a case, it becomes difficult to analyze the factors to consider before installing a solar panel for use in each of the two circumstances. Similarly, the components, features, and specifications of solar panels which is the most readily available embodiment of solar power technology are complex thus difficult to understand. The manufacturers often use complex and technical terms that are difficult to understand. 

The key to addressing the above issues is consulting specialists and reading existing materials. Research is all about taking an extra step to establish the critical information to fill an existing information gap. As such, specialists such solar panel manufacturers and salespeople are essential sources of practical information. They can explain the technical aspects of the solar power technology in simple terms and demonstrate their applicability thus improving comprehension. The internet is yet another rich source of information. However, the internet has numerous sources of both information and misinformation a feature that complicates the use of the resources. Not every blog post or webpage on the internet is scholarly information that can inform either a professional or academic research. To overcome the challenge, a researcher must study the source of information. The source and the credentials of the authors help internet users to sift through the information overload and identify practical and legitimate sources of information about the technology. 

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Difficulty in predicting use and effects

The development of refrigerators and air conditioners marked a great technological achievement in the history of humans. For once, people could store food including in industrial scales. Anglers could spend months at sea without the fear of their catch going bad. Similarly, air conditioners promised increased comfort as people could live comfortably in hothouses and offices especially in summers. However, the early refrigerators and air conditioners used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as refrigerants. At first, no thought that the gasses would have any adverse effects on the environment. Consequently, billions of kilograms were used in the manufacture of refrigerators and air conditioners. Finally, studies established that the greenhouse gasses were having immense adverse effects on the environment that contributed to the rapid depletion of the ozone layer. The Montreal protocol of 1987 marked the end of the use of CFCs in refrigerators and air conditioners as the world became conscious of the effects of the products. 

The case demonstrates the difficulty that characterizes the prediction of future uses and effects of technology. First, stakeholders often pay immense attention to the effects on human life. After determining ways of using the gasses safely without harming humans, they relaxed and stopped any further research on the gases. Furthermore, in some cases, some unethical manufacturers will always try to discourage any research that may affect the profitability of their businesses. Such important stakeholders complicated research on the uses and effects of CFCs. Currently, refrigerators and air conditioners use Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Unfortunately, the HFCs have similar effects (OzonAction Programme & Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, 1999). The inventors have therefore found the innovative use of minimizing the effects of using the gasses in foams.

Stakeholder analysis

The stakeholders in the development and subsequent adoption of technology have diverse concerns that affect the efficient innovation and uptake of the invention. The deciders, for example, have far-reaching worries including the technical aspects of the technology and prospects for profitability. The deciders have critical concerns that influence the type of the technology and its functionality. Technology assessment on the deciders would, therefore, focus on the technical aspects (Lovegrove, 2012). Financers are equally essential stakeholders who facilitate the innovation of new technology by availing the funds for research and experimentation with the idea. However, the financers will always demand an economic benefit from the technology. The innovators must thereby demonstrate the ability of an idea to meet the financial interests of the financers. 

The end users interact with the finished products. Most of the users lack detailed information concerning the technology. However, they need to understand the basics to enable them to use the innovation to improve their lifestyles. The assessment of the technology on consumers would focus on the functionality of the technology and the safety of the users among others. A creative technology that promises to ease human life is easy to use and is equally safe is most likely to attract many users. Cost is also another important factor to analyze to ensure that the mass production of the product is profitable. Operators help maintain and operate the technology. As such, they require adequate training to improve their understanding of the innovation. They would also demand appropriate tools and equipment to enhance their work and improve their safety while interacting with the technology daily.     

Technology definition

Solar power technology refers to the technique of converting the energy from sunlight into electricity. The multifaceted technology converts the energy of the sun directly using photovoltaics or indirectly through the concentrated solar power.

The scope of the study concentrates on the photovoltaics PV which converts light into electricity through a technique known as the photovoltaic effect. The conventional PV systems generate Direct Current. The system thus requires an inverter to convert the current into alternating current usable in most electronic appliances. The scope of the study thereby covers the entire system which includes the solar panels, storage devices, and inverters among other critical devices necessary for the safe utilization of solar energy both at domestic and commercial scales (Kaushika, Kaushik & Reddy, 2016). 

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  1. Kaushika, N. D., Kaushik, K., & Reddy, K. S. (2016). Sustainable Energy and the Environment: A Clean Technology Approach. Springer International Publishers.
  2. Bailey, S. (2014). Solar power: Technologies, environmental impacts and future prospects. New York : Nova Science Publisher. 
  3. OzonAction Programme., & Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol. (1999). Recovery & recycling systems: Guidelines, refrigeration sector. Paris: UNEP.
  4. Lovegrove, K. (2012). Concentrating solar power technology: Principles, developments and applications. Oxford: Woodhead.       
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