Solar Panels Roof Wanaka

Alternative Energy – Renewable Energy Sources Rated

Alternative Energy

Renewable energy sources rated

The earth will run out of fossil fuel sources. But if we continue to use non-renewable energy sources as we currently do, we will pollute the earth with toxic chemicals, carbon, and other dangerous substances to the point of no recovery. I think we can all agree that this is not the future we want for coming generations.

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Solar Panels Roof Wanaka

What Is Solar Power? How Solar Power Systems Work

Solar Power

Why solar power

What is the most abundant source of energy on the planet? You probably guess it. The sun. This source of heat, life energy, and light is the reason why life exists on our planet. The power of the sun’s resources is too big to even consider. So why don’t we harness this energy more than we do? Why are oil and coal and other fossil fuels the main sources of energy on a planet in need of a solution to global warming and environmental pollution?

The reason is that solar power was, in the past, difficult to capture. The sun’s energy is abundant. But we didn’t have the technology to harness it for the general consumer, until recently. This has changed in the last couple of decades with technological improvements. Now we are better able to turn the sun’s rays into energy for our homes and businesses.

What is solar power?

Free energy

We call energy from the sun solar energy. Solar panels convert this energy into usable power called solar power.

Solar power systems

What are solar power systems

I’ll refer to solar power for homes and businesses (SMBs). Solar power for industry, space, and cities is a different topic. Readers will most likely want to understand the topic from a consumer point of view. And you'll want to know about the benefits of solar power for your home.

A solar power system is a method for using technology to capture the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity for immediate use or store it in batteries for later use.

The flow goes like this:

Sun (an endless source of free energy) -> solar panels. PV cells convert the sun’s rays to Direct Current (DC) -> solar inverter converts DC current to 230-volt AC current (suitable for the home and business) -> AC current goes to the building’s electrical panel.

how solar power flows

The full solar power system  includes:

  • Solar panels (photovoltaic cells arranged in an array
  • Solar Inverter
  • Mounting
  • Cabling
  • Battery (optional)

So what happens if you have high power requirements on a very cloudy day? If you’ve set up the solar panel system correctly, you should still have enough power to cover all day-to-day possibilities. If, your power needs exceed the amount the solar system can offer on a day, don’t worry. The connection to the grid will take over and there will be no noticeable issues. The other option is to switch to batteries that the system has charged during off-peak periods.

The beauty of the system is that you can continue saving money right up until, in rare cases, your power requirements exceed the available solar energy.

How do solar panels work

Photo = Light. Voltaic = Electricity.

You might have heard of Solar PV Panels. PV stands for photovoltaic.
Photo = Light. Voltaic = Electricity.
The process of converting the sun’s energy into electricity via semiconductors is called the photovoltaic effect. Solar PV cells on solar panels capture the sun’s rays and convert the energy contained to DC current.

Solar panels are made of silicon and silver. They appear to be quite simple constructions from a high-level perspective. But panels are expensive to produce because of research and development costs and material design. Building efficient panels of solar PV cells takes great skill. Every year the cost of solar technology drops thanks to increased demand and hopefully one day this cost will be accessible to everyone on the planet.

Silicon, which is very efficient at absorbing the sun’s energy, is the main element used in solar panels.

The components of a solar panel are:

  1. Frame. Made from aluminium to provide support and structure
  2. Glass. For protection and maximum exposure to sunlight
  3. PV cells. Where the magic happens.
  4. Back sheet. Provides protection on the other side of the cells. The back sheet is not involved in power generation.
  5. Connector. Connects the cell to a solar array or solar inverter.

Photovoltaic systems have the advantages of being silent and free of moving parts.

Even on cloudy days, solar cells have the ability to produce energy. As long as the sun shines and the rays can penetrate the atmosphere to the panels, cells will produce energy.


Getting the best out of solar panels

The positioning and mounting of solar panels will affect performance more than other factors. This is why contracting qualified professionals to do the job is important. PV cells are sensitive to shading. It’s important that no cells are under shade for the entire panel to work.

We’re never going to run out of the sun’s energy (not for a very long time anyway) and most places on earth have sun for several hours a day at all times of the year. Even in winter, Wanaka and the Otago region get 7-8 hours of daylight every 24 hours. That’s plenty of time for energy production and storage.

Solar Power is renewable, green, and cost-effective. Install a solar power system in your home and save money. Live sustainably with solar and save the environment!

Solar Panels Roof Wanaka

Solar – Where is the industry going?

Where is the industry going

What direction is the industry heading

We've seen quite massive reductions in the cost of solar power generation. In 2016 we saw solar get below 30 US dollars a megawatt hour - that is - 3 cents a kilowatt hour - for the first time. Then, just recently this year, we've seen it get below 20 dollars a megawatt hour - that is 2 cents a kilowatt hour. It is almost certain that we'll soon see it get below $10 a megawatt hour, which is just an outstandingly low price.

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Renewable Energy Innovations Are Helping Power The World

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy innovations are helping power the world

In March 2017 a solar power record was broken. You might expect solar energy record-breaking in places like Saudi Arabia or California. But this particular record goes to the UK. Rainy old “blighty” managed to set new heights for solar energy in one of the more traditionally rainy months of the year, March.

The main takeaway from this news is that renewable energy from the sun can be harnessed even in the cloudiest places on earth. If they can do it, so can the rest of the world.

New Zealand has better weather than North Western Europe so there’s no reason why we can’t emulate or even beat them in the renewable energy game.

Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the world

Solar batteries

Storing energy

Our neighbour in Australia will benefit from what’s called the “World’s largest virtual power plant” once it’s constructed by 2022. The project by Elon Musk, probably the decade’s most famous innovator, will generate about half the power of one coal plant. The system will use Musk’s Tesla batteries and excess energy will feed onto the grid and delivered to homes as cheaper energy.

It’s a great start. The good news for consumers is that their power bills will be 30% cheaper if they take part in the scheme.

Solar panels installed on roof Wanaka

Solar power farms

Farming solar energy

China is one country that knows all about pollution. Smog levels in Beijing and other major cities reach hazardous levels regularly.

But the government has recognized that using fossil fuels as a primary fuel source can’t continue if the health of the Chinese people is important.
One of the efforts the country is making towards solar power is the construction of the world’s largest floating solar panel farm. Think solar panels all in a row in a desert, but replace desert with a floating mass of panels on a lake.

The 40-megawatt plant can power 15,000 homes. China uses around half the Average Power per capita of New Zealand so that’s roughly 7000 New Zealand homes. That’s around double the number of occupied homes in Wanaka. One plant of this size could give two cities the size of Wanaka its total home power supply needs.

Note: These are rough estimates and not intended to referenced as scientific proof.

China has the manpower and money to make experiments in solar energy and renewable energy sources. We hope that they continue to invest in non-fossil fuel sources and realise that the money is in solar energy.

Solar windows

Looking at solar power

Solar windows are one of those inventions that when you hear it, you wonder why it’s taken so long to become a reality. Almost every building has windows and modern tower blocks in cities are covered from top to toe in windows.

Why not make use of this space for power generation?

Organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells give office windows the ability to generate power while maintaining the standard function of a window (allowing light to pass both directions). Buildings use more energy than transport or industry in the US, so solar windows will make a huge dent non-renewable power requirements.

Researchers at Oxford University found that using Solar windows to cover a 200m tall building generates enough power to run almost 160 homes. And of course, using this energy to power the building would make it almost carbon-neutral.

Solar transport

Moving forward with solar

Would you fly in a plane that powered by the sun’s rays? Sometime in the future, you won't have a choice. So it's worth getting comfortable with the concept.

Solar Impulse is an experimental aircraft that flew around the world in 2016 using only solar energy as fuel for its engines. The experiment shows it’s possible to fly using only the sun’s rays to power your aircraft.

The airline industry is a massive polluter and their contribution to greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere is actually increasing.

Many people try to minimize flying, in order to reduce their carbon footprint. We'd all feel better about air travel if we weren't polluting the skies as we fly around the world.

Solar businesses

Solar energy for big businesses

Apple, the company behind the iPhone and iMac, and one of the most valuable companies in the world was recently given the go-ahead to sell surplus energy created at its solar farm in California. The plant is worth almost US $1bn, a huge investment, but the ROI is staggering. The renewable energy generated can power 60,000 homes.

Forward-thinking companies realise that by generating (free to use) energy from the sun’s rays, they will not only deliver power to their businesses, but they can generate revenue at the same time (from surplus energy).

Solar power in NZ

Solar in New Zealand

Wind, hydro, and wave energy are cheap but nothing is as plentiful as the energy from the sun. It is literally the source of power for everything on earth. The future of energy generation is solar.

New Zealand's government wants 90% of electricity generation in the country to come from a renewable source by 2025. The percentage currently stands at 80%, making New Zealand one of the top five countries in the world for renewable energy generation.

Let’s try to make it the top country in the world!

Solar Panels Roof Wanaka

Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Why solar is important

Why solar energy is important to New Zealand

If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering buying solar panels for your home or business location. Good for you. Solar energy is the future. The sun’s energy reserves are not expected to burn out for another 5 billion years, so we don’t need to worry about renewable energy for a few generations more. New Zealanders are keen supporters of environmental sustainability.

Residents of Wanaka and Queenstown, where the majority of Wanaka Solar’s clients live, are passionate about maintaining a pristine environment for locals and visitors. New Zealand is a special place and almost everyone will agree that the environment is our most valuable asset. Without a green, clean country our economy and health will suffer.

Investing in Solar panels for your home is a fantastic way of not only saving money but of saving the planet. Let’s take a look at the benefits of solar panels and solar energy. We’ll also examine the reasons you might not want to use solar energy

Advantages of solar power

Some good reasons to invest in solar

1. Saves Money
Solar power saves you money. The sun’s energy is free to use. But we need technology to harness the energy so that we can supply our homes with power. Fortunately, solar technology has come a long way and solar PV cells are a fraction of the costs they were a decade ago (when they were out of reach for most homeowners). The initial investment in solar panels is soon outweighed by the huge costs savings month-to-month as homeowners no longer need to pay for electricity. Water, lights, heating, and even cars (electric or hybrid-based) can all be powered by the energy supplied by solar panels.

2. Saves The Environment
One of the most important advantages is that by using solar as a primary energy source (or even a secondary source to electricity lines) we cause less damage to the environment. Whenever we use electricity from traditional sources, such as coal, wood and nuclear plants, we contribute to global warming, pollution, the general destruction of the planet. The resources that we currently depend on are not infinite. Neither is the energy of the sun, but it will outlast the other resources by a long, long way. The sun’s energy is what we call clean energy. It’s a source of power that does not pollute, contaminate, or change the environment negatively.

3. Helps The Economy
Switching to solar energy can also help the economy by reducing the need for fossil fuels from overseas. New Zealand is a net importer of energy. Per capita, NZ is also a high consumer of energy. With solar energy, comes less reliance on imports and this helps boost the country’s economy.

4. Makes You Money
By using solar panels, your property’s value will increase as it becomes a more sustainable energy source. Once the cost of buying and installing the panels has been taken care of, your home is more attractive to buyers thanks to its energy self-sufficieny. As energy costs increase worldwide this self-sufficiency becomes ever more important.

5. Low Maintenance
With no moving parts or complicated delivery systems, solar panels need only a small amount of maintenance every year (minimal cleaning). Without moving parts, solar panels do not contribute to noise pollution in the environment or home.

Disadvantages of solar power

Why you might be having second thoughts

1. Higher Initial Investment
The higher start-up costs for installation and materials can deter people. The return on investment on solar can take some time. Although solar panel technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years, the materials are still relatively expensive. Correct installation by experienced experts in solar installation is necessary for maximum efficiency and this also adds to the expense.

2. Affected By Climate
Despite the fact that solar cells can produce energy even on cloudy days, the effects are reduced when the sun’s rays are weaker. The sunnier the climate, the better the cells function. Solar power does not work as efficiently in very cloudy, dark climates.

3. Space Requirements
Solar panels take up a lot of space and change the appearance of your property. For some people, this is not acceptable. However, in many cases, the positioning of the panels and the materials used can make a big difference. Trained solar installation professionals can help minimise the impact and maximise the efficiency of cells on your property.

4. No 24-Hour Production
Solar energy cannot be produced at night so most homes need batteries to save excess energy produced during the day to use at night. Obviously, this is a limited supply so homes and businesses that have large energy requirements at night will need more panels or bigger batteries.

Pros and Cons of Solar Panels Summary

The decision to use solar power in your home or business is a very important one. One of the main factors is the cost. In the short-term, the price of solar panels and the costs of installation can deter many people. In the long-term, the benefits can be huge. Solar panels last for 30 years in many cases and by that stage, they will have long paid for themselves and saved you thousands, if not millions of dollars. The sun’s energy is free, clean, and plentiful. It’s only right that we should harness this power for the benefit of everyone.


Summing up the pros & cons of solar power

The decision to use solar power in your home or business is a very important one. One of the main factors is the cost. In the short-term, the price of solar panels and the costs of installation can deter many people. In the long-term, the benefits can be huge. Solar panels last for 30 years in many cases and by that stage, they will have long paid for themselves and saved you thousands, if not millions of dollars. The sun’s energy is free, clean, and plentiful. It’s only right that we should harness this power for the benefit of everyone.