The sunlight is starting to break through the clouds more frequently where I live and I am reminded of the suns power. The sun is a massive fusion powered heat and photon (light) emitting engine that fuses hydrogen into helium to produce mind boggling amounts of energy every second.
Even on a cloudy day in the northwest the suns powerful light infiltrates the clouds producing billions of useful lumens over something people call the "gloom" of the Northwest around Seattle. Even with this cloud cover monocystaline or thin film solar panels can crank out the power beautifully.
There is a network of solar powered "super chargers" for the Tesla Model S being constructed all across the United States. Over the next few years these stations along with newly announced battery swapping stations will enable the Model S to travel all across the United States on road trips powered by the sun.
In Germany and Japan nuclear energy is being phased out and government subsidized roof-top solar systems are being adopted and installed by regular citizens at a wild rate because of the prices after the pay in tariffs and other rebates are applied.
The cost of solar panels has been on a steady decline for the last 40 years. Systems that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the 1980's now only cost around $15,000 to $25,000 today. Many utility companies also have special programs set up for customers interested in solar.
The next time you get a sunburn think about the power of the suns light. Light from the sun travels about 93 million miles before being filtered by Earth Atmosphere before it hits our skin.
Current state of the art solar panels only convert about 24% of the suns light into electricity, mainstream panels are more in the 18% to 21% range. We can get a lot more work out of sunlight if we make use of the light and heat contained within its rays. Most solar panels actually weaken when heated beyond 70deg F, so a solar solution that keeps that panels cool while capturing the waste heat in a heat pump can get a lot more useful work and energy out of the sunlight.