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The Power Of Solar Energy
Solar energy is one of the most renowned efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources available today. Solar energy has been around for centuries, but it’s only in recent years that it has become a viable alternative to traditional forms of energy.
In part, this is because of the advancements in technology that have made solar energy more efficient and affordable. And with concerns about climate change and the environment on the rise, solar energy is becoming an increasingly important option.
Solar energy is a renewable energy resource, meaning that we can tap into it repeatedly. It doesn’t produce emissions like other forms of energy, such as coal or natural gas. This makes it an attractive option for people looking to reduce their carbon footprint. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to harness solar energy.
What Is Solar Energy?
Solar energy from the sun is a form of renewable energy. The sun emits light and heat (solar radiation) that can be harnessed to produce electricity, thermal energy, or photochemical energy. Solar energy is an environmentally friendly and sustainable resource that can meet many of our energy needs.
How Is Solar Energy Collected?
Photovoltaic Solar Panels
The first method of collecting solar energy is photovoltaic solar panels. It’s the most popular method of generating electricity from the sun. Solar panels come in different sizes. If you need a significant amount of electricity, installing photovoltaic cells (PV) with a larger surface area is the way.
How PV Solar Panels Work
A PV cell uses compound semiconductor wafers with either a monocrystalline or polycrystalline structure. Silicon is the most preferred semiconductor for making the wafer. The P-type and N-type wafers are produced separately. The two wafers sit on top of each other, and the reaction between the two creates a depletion region that reaches equilibrium and hence bars electricity generation.
Because of the PV cell’s structure, when light photons travel through it and join with the silicon wafers, their interactions release energy. This energy breaks the equilibrium within the depletion area, causing an instantaneous flow of electricity. Because of the continuous lighting, the process continues, hence generating a large amount of electricity.
The energy produced through a single light photon extends across the entire area in the PV cell. After that, it is incorporated into a complete array of solar cells, then a vast array of PV panels. This small interaction within the depletion zone could repeat and multiply, which results in a large amount of energy. PV solar arrays, however, generate DC energy.
This DC energy has to be converted into AC energy using an inverter to be integrated into modern power transmission technologies. There are several customised versions of this fundamental technology, which aim to improve the effectiveness of each PV cell at a molecular level and the construction and assembly of the panels, as well as the capacity of the panel to integrate into an array of solar panels.
Photovoltaic Solar Panel Efficiency
Efficiency is the quantity of sunlight that hits the panel’s surface and transforms into energy. The advancements in solar technology have led to a 20% increase in solar panels. The power rating also increased to 370W, up from 250W.
The effectiveness of the photovoltaic cell depends on the efficiency of the cell and the panel:
The cell’s shape is P-type, or N Type of silicon determines the cell’s efficiency. The greatest efficiency for conversion of a PV cell is at optimal operation voltage and current, also known as the fill ratio, is the basis for calculating the efficiency of cells. The performance of a panel is affected by the structure of the cell.
The type of silicon, busbar layout, and passivation are all crucial aspects. Panels made of the highest-quality IBC (Interdigitated Back Contact) cells are the most efficient because of their N-type silicon of high purity substrate and low busbar shadowing loss.
Another factor that determines the effectiveness of photovoltaic solar panels is their efficiency. This is calculated based on codes for the cell’s temperature at 25 degrees Celsius, solar irradiation of 1000W/m2, and an air mass of 1.5. To calculate the power rating, the total area of the pane is a square metre divided by the panel’s efficiency.
Like irradiance levels, temperatures, cell type, and cell interconnection, many factors can affect panel performance. However, the colour of the protective back sheet influences the efficiency. If it’s black, it will absorb heat, increasing the cell’s temperature. This results in increased resistance and diminutive the efficiency of conversion.
Most Efficient Photovoltaic Solar Panels
Thin Film Solar Panels
Thin-film solar panels are lightweight and flexible. They are made by laying several small layers of photovoltaic materials on the glass, plastic, or metal base. They also break down faster than other kinds of panels.
Thin-film cells have a solar panel efficiency of between 15 and 22 per cent. The technology of solar panels made of thin film has reduced the efficiency gap present in more costly solar panels. As a result, thin-film solar panels are now being used in large-scale projects and solar power plants that have set new records.
Monocrystalline Solar Panels
The monocrystalline solar panel is created using the materials’ purest version. A sophisticated process creates a long rod of silicon.
The rod is cut into wafers that can make solar cells. Compared with the two other types of solar cells, monocrystalline panels are believed to be the most efficient in the standard testing conditions.
With more than 22% efficiency, the current monocrystalline solar panel offers the most efficiency. Its rounded edges and dark shade distinguish the monocrystalline panel.
Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Solar panels made from polycrystalline solar cells, often called multi-crystalline solar cells, are slightly lower in efficiency than monocrystalline solar panels. Silicon is produced as a block of crystals rather than a unit. Individual solar cells are constructed by cutting the block into wafers.
The performance of polycrystalline solar panels available is lower than 22 per cent. A solar panel made of polycrystalline is identified by its rectangular cut shape and its blue speckled colour.
Passive Solar Heating
The sun emits a broad spectrum of radiation, including infrared, at various wavelengths. Heat energy is transported efficiently from the spectrum to everything that can absorb it. Black bodies absorb this type of heat. Electromagnetic radiation, for example, is used to heat various passive heating systems in the egg cooker.
It’s also used to heat homes, restrooms, and various other places. The methods for collecting solar energy through passive solar heating depend on the black body’s ability to absorb and transmit electromagnetic radiation. Thermal energy is frequently harvested at the residential level to heat water systems. However, these systems are not suitable for large-scale power generation.
Solar Thermal Technologies
Solar Thermal Heating
Solar thermal heating is a method of collecting solar energy to provide heat to processes that require it. For instance, solar heat is used for water heating, room heating and cooling, and crop drying.
Concentrating Solar Power
Mirrors and tracking systems are used in concentrated solar power systems (CSP) to focus sunlight from a vast area into a narrowly focused beam. The concentrated heat is subsequently employed as a heat source in various applications, including steam-based power plants, water desalination, and cooking.
With that said, the parabolic trough and the solar power tower are two of the most developed concentrating devices. Dish concentrators and linear Fresnel reflectors are two less well-developed systems. To track the sun and focus light, various approaches are used.
The utilisation of thermal energy storage, which may supply heat when the sun isn’t shining, is prevalent in CSP. CSP is a cost-effective method for storing energy, and it is used in practically all cases.
Solar Heating And Cooling Systems
Solar thermal energy generating stations can also be used for cooling, either for cooling buildings (air conditioning) or cooling industrial operations (refrigeration). Solar thermal energy is converted to cold by evaporation and condensation.
There are two types of systems: open and closed. The most extensively employed are closed systems, such as absorption refrigeration machines, and open cooling and dehumidifying procedures, such as sorption-supported air conditioning.
Solar Water Heaters
Solar collectors can be used anywhere globally, even in places with little solar radiation and short periods of sunshine. Solar thermal water heaters are used worldwide, with significant deployments occurring in growing economies and developing countries.
Glazed flat-plate collectors, evacuated tube collectors, and lower-temperature swimming-pool heaters composed of plastic tubes are examples of technologies.
Cooks can use solar cooking to heat, cook, bake, or pasteurise food and beverages. Solar energy can be an excellent addition to a household’s energy mix, complementing other combustion-based stoves that can create heat on-demand using other fuels when the sun isn’t shining—dishes from the area. You can conserve alternative fuels depending on cooking habitsnd local climate circumstances.
Solar Energy's Future
Solar energy harvesting technology is being used to replace fossil fuel-generated electricity. Although there are many methods for harvesting solar energy, they all rely on the sun’s energy to complete tasks, specifically, something for which humans rely on electricity.
The continued improvement in efficiency and process improvements will boost the effectiveness of solar harvesting and may eliminate the need to use fossil fuels entirely. So, if you are considering opting into solar energy as a power option, why not employ the services of a reputable solar company to handle all your queries, offer advice and conduct the installation.