GreenTech

SolarPower: good for now or tomorrow?

At this moment [2017] humans are still dependent on fossil fuels to provide them with electricity for their daily uses. This energy source is not only reliable but more importantly low-cost. However there are downsides: fossil fuels aren’t abundance source and it isn’t sustainable for planet earth. One of the solutions is making use of is sun by placing solar panels on the roof. And thus giving humans an abundant natural energy source.It’s a straightforward solution, but this comes with a few difficult tasks. In the ‘Solar energy:good for now or tomorrow?‘ article you will learn how the production of solar energy works, the advantages and disadvantages, what kind of tasks lay ahead  make solar energy accessible for the average household and how to find your way in the current market.

First, we are going to look at how rays of the sun are being converted into electricity for everyday usage. One the market today their are the different ways, which can transform the sun’s light into energy. One of them is the so-called Photo-voltaic (PV) panels. The first capable Photo-voltaic solar cells that could convert sun rays into energy and run an electronic device was introduce in 1954 by three American researchers Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin at the Bell Telephone Laboratory. And in 1983 21 megawatts is produced worldwide by PV systems and as of (month) 2016 (number megawatts.

These cells are placed across open spaces or affixed to a roof’s structure. You have two electrical contacts that are connected to a semiconductor. When the sun strikes the flat panels photons are absorbed into the semi-conductor and DC) is created. And inverted knocks loose a couple of electrons (AC) altering current electricity and they are going to the two contacts. This altering current electricity can be used to power your house.

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The Lieberose solar farm in Germany

On the other side you have concentrated solar power (csp) better known as a thermal solar system. For this system you have to install giant mirrors (heliostats), which are computer-controlled. The heliostats reflect and concentrate sunlight to a single focus point. It created heat and fluid to a solar receiver steam generator (srsc), turning a super-heat stream with the help of a turbine into electricity. Photo-voltaic (PV) cells are more common for businesses and consumers alike, because the installation can be used on a smaller scale. however, concentrated solar power (csp) is better for the environment and has a lower cost of electricity.

Now you know how solar panels are produced and which types of solar panels are out there. But should you (re)consider to buy this type of ‘green’ technology? Down below you have the pro’s and con’s on solar energy panels. First of all its sustainable in use. Meaning, when solar panels are in use, you don’t have harmful greenhouse gases, like CO2. PV panels don’t operate on no water or air. And when you put them on the roof you won’t hear a thing. However some people don’t like the Photo-voltaic panels on the roof. Or think that their house resale value will decrease. The opposite is true: from 2002-2013 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory did a research, which indicated that buyers often are willing to pay more for installed solar panels.The current market offers sleek and compact solutions and they even have them in black.

◊ Furthermore, according to researchers from Geophysical Research Letters our sun will burn for the next 1.5 billion years. It’s an abundant source of energy. Unlike our fossil fuels. The daily emissions is about 73.000 terawatts that shines down on earth. Also to other belief the panels aren’t that fragile and can last the long time of 25 years. Companies can even include a 25 year power and product warranty. Panels can sustain wind, water and eve relatively harsh weather conditions such as hail. Click here for the WIVBTV review. It’s a proven technology and placed by big corporations such as: Walmart, Apple, Google, Target and Macy’s  Other organisations are putting their foot forwards, like governments, schools and oil companies. Examples: 6 Albemarle Public Schools(USA)Sonnenschiff and Solarsiedlung (Germany)Wildpoldsried 321% more energy(Germany)Lund’s City Hall (Sweden) San Francisco rooftop buildings (USA) 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of road(France) Dubai rooftop buildings(United Arab Emirates)Solar on subsidised housing(USA)Townhall Viborg(Denmark)Daejeon to Sejong 20miles/32km(South-Korea),Ota rooftop buildings(Japan), Rooftop buildings(France)ezgif-1-a677454d7d

The lane runs from Daejeon to Sejong, a distance of around 20 miles (32 km) South Korea

Solar panels can be installed in less sunnier  cold climates. This system can be installed everywhere there is daylight. Direct sun exposure will generate more power in sunnier climates. However colder temperatures can stop heat that reduce the output of voltage. A household in Germany need a larger array to product the same result as in Southern California. And because there is an excess of solar energy during the day some countries in Europe and Japan have so-called feed-in-tariffs. Basically, it means you get money for the extra kWh you generated with solar power. For the USA they have the net-meting systems, where the government give people credit for their surplus energy during the day and people spend this at night.

There are several major disadvantages to solar energy. First, the sun has to burn in order to transform light into electricity. So your solar household relies at this moment sill on an utility grids for power when night falls. Researchers are working on the efficiency of storing solar energy into batteries. Storage costs come down systematically, but they aren’t there yet. It’s possible for you to live off the grid, but for large solar customers such as businesses and government buildings this is a semi-reliable solution. Secondly, solar systems are currently too expensive and a big commitment for the average household. You pay between 10.000 -20.000 dollars for energy panels. Your investment will equalize in fife -ten years of the average 25 years life circle of the solar system. And mind you in some places your house-tax will increase in some local authorities. It’s common practice to insure the panels for possible storm-damage. The government provides made regulations to subsides solar power to make it more expressible and affordable for families and businesses. And there are loan companies that will give you the option to buy this system.

Despite that solar power plants have very low operating and far lower safety risks than fossil fuel plants, they can cause land degradation or habitat loss for wildlife. These power plants need a large surface in order to operate their service. Furthermore, solar technology contains hazardous material, which you could also find in electronics. If you have to dispose this material on a large-scale is can become a problem for the environmental footprint. Also, there’s the inability of keeping up with future customer demands, because of a scarcity for certain materials for the primarily PV panel production. Luckily, silicon solar panels are compromised of more recyclable materials, such as silver, aluminium and silicon. Silicon is the second most abundant element on earth.

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Solar power panels on the rooftop

Most sold solar panels today have an at best circa 20% efficiency rate to convert solar energy into electricity. And the cost of Photo-voltaic cells are  currently around the 11 dollar cents per kilowatt hour, natural gas is 6 dollar cents and coals plant is 9 dollar cents. In 2010 Photo-voltaic rate was 21 dollar cents per kilowatt hour. It can’t be a competing way for the big industries like oil companies, energy-centrals using atom fuel. If you want to invest your money into the solar energy future your luck may run out, because Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden offered both praise and some criticism in a  meeting in quarter of 2016 with shareholders about a possible switch from hydrocarbons to renewable’s. Shell will limit heir investments in the solar industry, because although it has a bright future the top 10 solar companies made no profits and dividends last year. At this moment the company is on standby when it becomes to ”greener” technologies until they can make a financial profit.

Also Europe is no longer in the global top 10 of companies that manufactures solar panels. In the early til mid 2000’s they were even the world leader in producing these panels. Now Chines companies such as Goldwind took the crown. China invest two and half times more in clean tech than the EU. There are several factors why European companies are now in the shade. According to chairman of the BNEF board Michael Liebreich Europe failed to respond efficiently to the global financial crisis and the aftermath. This plays a bit role with global investors and they hesitate to invest money in EU projects like clean energy. Liebreich paint out that several EU members showed at first strong support for renewable energy and then turned around when the expense was to high with subsidies, because it was in high demand. Investments in the green energy branch make us 18% of the global total with 58 billion dollars in 2015. This investment is compared with the year before more than half cut down according to BNEF. One of the best solutions for this industry is a political commitment to this branch while navigating with recession, unemployment rate, fossil fuels suppliers and immigration.

On the current market you have different kinds of panels with a wide variety in levels of output, design efficiency, reliability and durability. some are even excluded from our commercial residential use and have other applications. For example NASA makes use of 44,4% and 37,9% efficient solar cells made by Sharp, which are one of the leading companies in the industries. These systems costs millions of dollars. You also have 32,8% solar cell efficiency made by IES and University UPM in Spain and the 36% efficiently by UMonix.

For the common household solar efficiency levels are between 21.5% by Sun Power and 15.5% by MiaSolé. For more information: Click here top 10 reviews on PV panels or Click here for back ground information on solar electricity. As of today much research is being done on PV solar power and the efficiency is risen from 3.8% in 2009 to over 21% in 2014. The new material called perovskites is green incorporated and at this pace the production could be 50% more energy per square foot of a panel. Combine this with a better solution for energy storage in batteries and solar power is able to compete even in this day of age with low oil prices. This green solution will also become more affordable by the increase of suppliers in which Chines have a big hand in. And even the installation time has fallen from three full days to four hours due to better tools and more efficient methods.

In the end people will eventually turn towards global renewable energy, because it’s in abundance unlike the hazardous fossil fuels we rely on today. Since the sun shines across the globe with free light. This can form an excellent way to be more independent and secure of our usage for our growing need of owning multiple electronic devices. When further technological advantages are made in the area’s of battery storage capacity, higher efficiency per square foot on PV panels and the type of materials that are being used in the manufacturing process of solar cells and panels. Solar energy can be a source for an alternative for an average house hold while being a good competitor against fossil fuels and still be silent, sustainable and durable for the environment.

Sources

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More information for choosing sun panels: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/042315/how-profit-solar-energy.asp

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