Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to produce electricity, according to the United States Department of Energy. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy is an infinitely renewable energy source. Eventually fossil fuels, a non-renewable energy source, will be depleted and the world will have to turn toward renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. As new solar technologies develop, the costs of solar panels are decreasing while their efficiency is increasing. Solar panels are able to directly convert sunlight into electrical energy.
When photons from the sun strike a photovoltaic cell, electrons are released from the photovoltaic cell, according to the United States Department of Energy. These electrons travel toward the surface of the photovoltaic cell which creates an imbalance in charge between the cell’s back and front surfaces. This creates a potential voltage that’s similar to opposite ends of a battery. If these two surfaces are connected via an external load like an appliance, electricity is created.
Single voltaic cells can range in size from 0.5 to 4 inches in diameter, according to the United States Department of Energy.
One disadvantage of using solar panels to produce electricity is that the amount of sunlight that reaches earth’s surface is not consistent, according to the United States Department of Energy. The amount of energy that’s delivered to earth’s surface from the sun depends on time of year, time of day and weather conditions. Solar energy is difficult to store, which presents another challenge. Another disadvantage is that large areas of solar panels must be built to collect any significant amount of energy. Convert only a small oration of received light. Do not produce electricity when there is fog, cloudiness or smog.
One advantage of using solar panels to produce electricity is that bulky mechanical generators are not needed to produce electricity, according to the United States Department of Energy. When using fossil fuels, large generators are needed. Solar panel systems in a solar panel installation are also easy to install quickly and can vary in size. The major benefit of using solar panels to produce electricity is that energy is produced without releasing carbon emissions.
Renewable source of electricity. The conversion of electricity is fast and immediate – very direct this means you do not need a generator if you have a solar panel. No moving parts and need minimal maintenance with no supervision. Can operate for between 20 and 30 years life-line. There is minimal or no environmental impact, as they do not give out any wastes.
The first photovoltaic systems were developed in 1954 by Bell Telephone researchers, according to the United States Department of Energy. Starting in the late 1950s photovoltaic cells were used to power NASA space satellites. Soon after, photovoltaic cells were used to power small items like watches and calculators.
The amount of solar energy that falls on earth in one hour is greater than the amount of energy that humans consume in an entire year, according to Pnas.org.
Everybody knows (or should know) that solar energy is clean and green, but there are actually many advantages of solar energy. I’ll run down 11 of them here. I’d also throw in disadvantages of solar energy, but there’s basically just one. Since the sun doesn’t shine 24/7, we need to use other sources of electricity and need to fill in with energy storage as well. Particularly, energy storage (most probably battery energy storage) is needed in order to cover brief seconds or minutes when the sun isn’t shining. This cuts the need for backup fossil fuel plants that otherwise have to run at about 40-90% capacity. Anyway, that’s the only real disadvantage of solar energy that I can think of. On to the advantages of solar energy. You can check out this Solar Panel Installation page for more ideas.
Advantages of Solar Energy Everybody Should Know
- Solar energy can (probably) save you money. Assuming you have a roof or field where you can place solar panels, solar energy can save you a lot of money. In many places around the world, electricity from rooftop solar panels is cheaper than electricity from the local utility. In fact, solar panels often save people tens of thousands of dollars. Solar energy is better for our health. I mentioned the “green” superiority of solar energy at the top, but what a lot of people don’t quite catch is that protecting the environment also means protecting our health. Cleaner air and water = healthier, longer-living people.
- Solar energy fights global warming and catastrophic climate change. The other side of that “environment” coin is the global warming and catastrophic climate change side. Those crises don’t just threaten our health, but also our built environments, homes, food supply, water supply, and overall livability (as well as that of many species). Solar energy is one of the best solutions to the global warming and catastrophic climate change crisis. Solar energy makes the grid more secure. If a large power plant goes down suddenly, either through malice or natural causes, it can cause a lot of problems for the electricity grid. It may even cause the grid to crash, hurting society greatly. Millions of solar panel systems spread all over the place offer a much more secure system. Even if a hundred or a thousand systems go down for some reason, the grid should be fine.
- Solar energy cuts the need for a lot of transmission. Transmission lines and supporting infrastructure aren’t cheap. They also result in considerable electricity losses. Solar panels can be placed right on top of (or next to) the buildings or infrastructure that need electricity.
- Solar energy comes at times of very high demand. Electricity is mostly needed in the middle of the day, afternoon, and early evening. Not coincidentally, that coincides a lot with the times that solar energy is most abundant. Why does this matter? Well, electricity generators generally sell their electricity on an electricity market where they compete with other generators. The lowest-priced electricity generally wins, but as more electricity is needed, there are fewer electricity generators competing and bidding at higher and higher prices. So, times of high electricity demand generally see the highest electricity prices. If electricity from solar is available at such times, it is of a very high value and also helps to drive down the price of electricity. Solar energy protects us from fuel price volatility. Non-renewable energy sources have their costs partially driven by the cost of their fuel. That often results it pretty dramatic price volatility. Free sunshine runs into no such issue. The capital costs are almost the entire cost of the system, as even maintenance needs are very minimal.
Solar energy is renewable. This is an obvious one, but that doesn’t mean it should be left out. Renewable, of course, means that the resource will “never” be depleted.
Solar energy is extremely abundant. “Renewable” doesn’t necessarily mean abundant, but in the case of solar, the energy potential truly is massive. There is no energy resource on the planet that compares to solar energy. When you look at the chart below, note that the energy potential from solar is an annual figure while the energy potential from fossil fuels and nuclear is energy potential from their total known energy reserves. The difference is insane.[Top]
As people of the 21st century, we’re no strangers to consumerism. Sure, consumerism has made it possible for us to stay in touch with technology and its continuous upgrades, welcome all the products in our homes, but that’s also what’s made us lose touch with the basics of human life and what’s at the very essence for running our households – the energy. There’s no point in denying most of us today are unaware of the carbon footprint we leave behind which is damaging our planet, and in turn makes energy all the more expensive.
The way out of this would be to turn to usage of renewable energy sources, or to say it simply to turn to nature and its ways and what better option than to choose the sun and its might. Unlike when solar power first started to be used, it’s much more affordable nowadays to make your home solar dependable and go off the grid. The vast options of solar panel parts and components certainly makes it easier to implement this energy efficient solution in your home. Considering solar power is natural and renewable, it helps improve public health by not producing any pollution, and in turn helps protect the waste of other natural resources that aren’t exactly renewable, such as the fossil fuel.
Taking all this into account, solar energy can help you save on electricity, specially that we always have increase in our electric bills, this can be a great help for us. Immediately after installing the solar panel parts and components. Since it’s modular, you can install as many panels as you wish, having in mind every new kilowatt of more solar capacity adds to your electricity savings. Even if you end up producing more energy than you can spend, there are local utility companies that would pay you to use your extra generated energy. This means what you pay when you invest in this energy source will more than pay off eventually and even add to the value of your home – something that’s crucial in case there’d come a day when you’d want to sell your home.
So, not only would you reduce the green gas emissions (those responsible for severe weather and global warming), you’d also become energy independent and go completely off grid, not paying a dollar on electricity bills. When you have this power system installed, you’d join the solar revolution happening in Australia and become one of seven homes that rely on this renewable source to run the household.
The way the solar systems work is they rely on solar panel cells to collect the sun’s photons, then create the DC electric field and use an inverter to invert it to AC, making it usable for appliances, with an output of 250 to 260W. Even when there isn’t sun, as in throughout the night or cloudy days, there is enough energy that’s stored in a battery to supply your household with, and that’s what makes this source so revolutionary.