Fast development of civilization is leading to more depletion of traditional energy sources, says a solar PV installer. This depletion is going to create a bigger problem, which we are not aware of.
Traditional sources of energy like wood, coal, petroleum, water etc. are there, but they are slowly diminishing. Energy is one thing which is required by every existing or inert object in this universe. Life itself is dependent on it. Modern sources of energy like solar, thermal, hydropower, nuclear etc. are also available.
Traditional sources cannot be created but we can still prevent their wastage. Manufacturing nuclear energy is expensive therefore we only have one option that is solar energy, which is free, unlimited, readily available and can be reused.
Scientist are developing newer technologies to trap solar energy to our benefit. One such technology is harnessing solar energy through solar panels installed by solar PV installer and converting it to electricity and heat. Approximately 173,000 terawatts of solar energy is hitting the earth’s surface. The world requires approximately 15 terawatts of energy annually. There is ample of solar energy which can be trapped and used.
There are many ways of converting solar energy but the most commonly used are through photo voltaic cells and solar thermal. These photovoltaic cells have photons and these photons absorb solar energy into semi-conductors which are made from silicon alloy and thus electricity is produced. Large mirrors are used to convert solar energy to heat which is known as solar thermal. This thermal energy is used to heat a fluid that produces steam which in turn powers turbines that produce electricity. Both of these methods need lots of sunlight. Angle of the sun and atmospheric conditions will vary the amount of sunlight received by the solar panels. Areas which have dry climate get greatest solar potential.
Types of solar energy
Use of scientific methods to produce solar energy can be active or passive depending on how it is captured, converted and distributed.
Active is when we are using photovoltaic cells and/or solar panels to convert sun’s energy into electricity and heat, and it is simple, effective, and durable. A solar electric system is very cost effective for home and offices. It uses the mid-day sun to convert into electricity and this electricity can be used when day light is minimum or nil. Clean energy gives us clean environment.
Passive is when we are utilizing the sunlight to its maximum potential for light and heat. Use construction materials which disperse heat or light to achieve desired results and also design the building in such a way that it gets natural circulation of air. Thermal materials like stone, cement and water can be used in warm temperate regions to keep buildings cool by absorbing solar heat during the day and radiating stored heat to cool the structure at night. They can also be used in cold temperate areas to maintain warmth as well. The size and placement of thermal materials depend on several factors such as climate, daylighting and shading conditions.
Some pros and cons of solar energy
As it is a renewable source, it can be collected anywhere in the world. Solar power plants do not pollute the atmosphere. Large solar power installation can utilize large area of land thus disturbing the forest area but do not disturb the local environment. These power plants have lower operating cost as the major ingredient is free.
Solar panels are unable to trap solar energy at night and this major disadvantage is stopping it from becoming a major source of electricity and heat. Most efficient solar panel can only convert 22% of sunlight into electricity. This type of solar power installation is provided by solar electric company and it is expensive. For solar installation, the cost goes up to as high as $20,000 depending on the size of the panel. In some countries, the cost of solar power installation has come down to the same price as that of the power from the power companies.
Germany is still a leader in solar system power installation with 35 gigawatts. The top ten countries are Germany, China (18 GW), Italy (17 GW), Japan (13 GW), USA (12 GW), Spain (5 GW), France (4 GW), Australia (3GW), Belgium (3 GW) and UK (2 GW). These percentages are rising as more solar system installations are done. This increase will also lead to a price drop in the household solar installations. Research is still going on to improve solar panel technologies. Many research efforts are addressing these problems. More efficient and low maintenance cost photovoltaic cells are being developed.
Types of solar panels for residential solar installations
There are seven types of solar panels monocrystalline, multicrystalline, thin film solar cells, biohybrid solar cells, amorphous silicon solar cell, concentrated photo voltaic cells and cadmium telluride solar cells. Monocrystalline solar panel, multicrystalline solar panel and thin film solar cells are the most commonly used solar panels for household provided by a solar electric company. Monocrystalline is the most expensive and purest solar panel.
These are also space saving and very efficient as they can convert 22% of solar energy to electricity. It gives the maximum return for your investment, can work efficiently for 25 years. Multicrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels are less pure and can covert 17% of solar energy to electricity. Large space is requited for the installation.
Thin film solar cells are photovoltaic cells whose efficiency is 15% conversion. These are easy to make so mass production is possible. Fluctuation in weather does not affect them. These require lots of space, so if you have space constraint then these are not suitable for you. Their life expectancy is less than 25 years.
Points to be considered before installation of solar systems
- Calculate your daily power usage from your monthly bill by getting advice from solar pv installer.
- Replace your old electrical appliances and bulbs with energy efficient ones.
- Find out the most suitable type of solar power installation panels for your space and climatic conditions.
- Find out your installation cost from a qualified solar electric company technician.