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?
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.
The full solar power system includes:
- Solar panels (photovoltaic cells arranged in an array
- Solar Inverter
- 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:
- Frame. Made from aluminium to provide support and structure
- Glass. For protection and maximum exposure to sunlight
- PV cells. Where the magic happens.
- Back sheet. Provides protection on the other side of the cells. The back sheet is not involved in power generation.
- 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!