The solar system is the driving force of all life forms. Solar energy is a source of clean, renewable energy. In today’s world, fossil-fuel has become an enemy for the environment; solar energy could be the massive energy solution for the future.
The scarcity & carbon footprint of fossil-fuel is today’s vibrant problem. The only solution is the sun, or solar energy could aid in massive electricity production & water heating.
Here you can have the latest data on solar energy for you to enrich with basis knowledge! If you are exploring Solar Energy, here is the best option to read this article. Explore astonishing new facts & basis information on solar energy!
The massive star has a monstrous look from outside; our Sun- our powerhouse & our life-saving drive. Sun is the king of the solar system, emits energy in the form of solar radiation. Solar power is a renewable source of energy created by nuclear fusion in the Sun. It is necessary for all life forms on Earth and can be harvested for human uses such as electricity & heat.
The Earth captures a lot of solar power – 173 thousand terawatts. That’s 10 thousand times more power need of the planetary population uses. Is it possible one day, the world could be completely reliant on solar energy?
To answer that question, we need to answer – how solar panel converts solar energy to electrical energy.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar power comes from the Sun and is converted into thermal or electrical energy, which is the cleanest and abundant renewable energy source available on the Earth called solar energy. The world’s most prosperous solar resourceful country is U.S. Solar technologies can harness this energy for various uses. It could aid in- Generating electricity.
- Providing light or a comfortable interior environment
- Heating water to use domestic, commercial, or industrially purpose
What are the types of Solar Technologies?
There are three significant ways of harnessing solar energy:
- Photovoltaics (PV)
- Solar heating & cooling (SHC)
- Concentrating solar power (CSP)
Photovoltaics generate electricity from sunlight via an electronic process; It powers anything from calculators to road signs in homes & large commercial businesses. SHC and CSP applications both use the heat generated by the Sun. In the case of SHC systems, it provides space or water heating. And in the case of CSP power plants, it runs traditional electricity-generating turbines.
How is Solar Used?
We can say solar energy is a very flexible energy technology. It made as-
- distributed generation; located at or near the point of use
- Or as a central-station, utility-scale solar power plants like traditional power plants.
Several technologies are used to produce solar energy. The generated energy is then stored for distribution after the sunsets. In the U.S., solar exists within a complex and interrelated electricity system. It’s working alongside other technologies like wind power. Solar power aims to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy.
It requires supportive policy frameworks at the local, state, and federal levels. That will ensure consumers & businesses to have fair access to clean energy technologies like solar.
The Solar Market Today
More than 69 gigawatts (G.W.) of solar installed in the U.S. are enough to power more than 13.1 million homes. Over the last decade, the United States’ solar market has developed at an average rate of 50% each year. More than 2 million individuals who install solar in the U.S. are ranging from small home-rooftop systems to large utility-scale systems. It adds hundreds of megawatts of clean electricity to the power grid.
Let’s have a look at the fantastic solar technologies that exist & established. The non-implemented solar technologies innovation explaining below its tricky research & proper implementation would make our dreams come true of green hi-tech future. Let’s go:
1. Technology like solar cells are also called photovoltaic, or P.V. cells convert the sunlight into usable energy. Solar cells are made of silicon – a semiconductor material found in computer chips.
When sunlight hits the cells, it knocks electrons loose from their atoms. As the electrons flow through the cells, they generate electricity. Photovoltaic power stations and solar thermal power plants exist on a much larger scale. When building at a utility-scale, both systems can provide large amounts of power to the electric grid.
2. Concentrated solar power (CSP) is another method people use to harvest solar energy. Here, the solar thermal power plants use mirrors instead of solar cells to turn the Sun’s energy into a concentrated heat source. Mirrors reflect sunlight to a central tower, which houses a turbine. The heat is used to boil water and drive a steam turbine that generates electricity in large quantities. The steam powers an electric generator. Whether powering individual homes and buildings or solar thermal power plants, solar energy is an inexhaustible and pollution-free fuel source.
For fossil fuels, you have to use the land for exploration, extraction processing & then transportation. But the mirror solar panel collects solar energy and then converts electricity all within a single location. People sometimes forget that’s exactly a very efficient use of sustainable energy resources. So a project of this massive size will avoid about 400,000 metric tons of carbon each year.
3. Facts to know that 12 PV cells are enough to charge a cellphone & tablets. But it generally takes many modules for the power supply of an entire house. Electrons are the only moving elements in a solar cell, and all of those go back where they came from. There’s nothing to get used up, so solar cells can last for decades. So what’s stopping us from entirely reliant on solar power?
4. Now, let’s look at a wonderful project – the Mojave Desert’s solar plant project in California. The project is not like a photovoltaic that converts sunlight to direct current to produce electricity. Instead, it uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto a boiler to create high temperature & high-pressure steam. That steam is then used to turn a turbine to generate electricity. A heliostat structure holds two mirrors. Those mirrors are used to reflect sunlight onto the boiler. The size of the boiler is equal to a medium-sized natural gas plant.
So think, it’s an excellent alternative for carbon emitted fossil fuel, and you don’t have the nuclear waste lasting for eternal! But it will displace lots of local plant & wildlife – so they make that an important note. The project took initiatives to rescue the endangered tortoise & other wildlife to move into a protected nursery.
5. Meanwhile, solar cells are getting better, cheaper, and are competing with the electricity grid. And innovation like floating solar farms may change the landscape. There is a real fact that over a billion people are not accessing a reliable electric grid, especially in developing countries, mostly sunny. So in places like that, solar energy is already much cheaper and safer than available alternatives like kerosene. For example, despite sufficient solar energy, Finland or Seattle may still be slightly off.
The world’s largest floating rotating solar farm on the water is in South Korea. Unlike other conventional solar facilities of land, this module is designed to move along with the Sun during the day. It harvests 22% more energy than the ground-based system and a 16% increase in yield compared to typical floating solar arrays. The floating plant is made up of roughly 1,600 solar photovoltaic modules installed on a floating deck.
The deck rotates with the direction of the Sun to maximize efficiency. Since the plant collects sunlight reflecting off water, developers said this plant could generate more power than the ground-based system.
The china government has promised to spend 360 billion dollars on clean energy by 2020. China has installed a floating solar plant on lake water. It’s generating enough power for a small city. New sections of solar panels bolted together and then floated out to join the others.
7. Solar desalination is another solar technology. It can solve freshwater scarcity using only the Sun, sea, Earth, & wind. In today’s world, about 4 billion people face water scarcity problems. Let’s have a look at a company named ‘Elemental water makers.’ They implemented a solar desalination project on British Virgin Island. They aim to gather fresh water from unlimited sources with zero carbon emissions. A photovoltaic solar panel is installed at the top of the client’s property. It provides power to the pump directly. A submersible pump is installed to displace the seawater upwards from the open ocean intake. The larger particles in the water are first captured using pre-filtration. Then desalination takes place using reverse osmosis membranes. The freshwater could be demineralized for drinking water purposes. It’s then temporarily stored in a reservoir, ready to be used at will.
In this way, 12,500 liters or 3,300 gallons of affordable freshwater are produced daily, using the unlimited free resources of sun & sea.
9. Green Roof: Urban areas use solar architecture to reduce the “urban heat island” effect and solve their electricity and heating bills problems. Green roofs like this one located at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. It reduces the amount of heat that is absorbed or lost. It also provides vegetation that absorbs carbon dioxide. Hence filter pollutants out of rainwater and air. The round windows provide fresh air and light to the museum below.
10. Solar cookers use sunlight directly to heat food or water for drinking or hygiene. Unlike wood-burning stoves, solar cookers are not a fire hazard, do not produce smoke, and do not need fuel. It also does not causes habitat loss in forests where trees harvested for fuel. Now, look at what Bangladesh is doing. A simple man Abdul Hamid invented a solar cooker. He’s giving his effort in researching for a better outcome. In his method, he installed a simple solar photovoltaic device on the rooftop. He connects the P.V.s with four hydrogen devices, which in turn associated with a carbon device. So the electricity produced by P.V., in turn, moves & react with hydrogen & carbon to create methane. That methane is used to turn on the cooker to cook anything you want; how genius is that!
11. Solar Irrigation: Solar energy technology can also apply to agriculture and business. This system in rural Bangladesh uses solar panels to pump water from a nearby well.
Bangladesh is a country of the gigantic agricultural farm due to its huge population & food demand. The country uses 2 lakh deep tube-wells.
It also uses 14 lakh diesel-driven pumps of farming purposes. But the agriculture sector is in trouble due to diesel price rise and its damaging carbon footprint. Bangladesh has invented its solar irrigation pump. It costs only 4 lakh taka that can cover 20 acres of land for agricultural production.
The country farm requires a massive volume of water discharge. Also, we need to buy a solar pump at a low price. A project named ‘Solargao – Bangladesh clean technology ltd” already invented such a solar panel.
Its photovoltaic device rotates manually by the farmer is relatively cheaper than the German one. The German panel rotates automatically using auto-tracker is very expensive. The machine comprises three parts: A solar photovoltaic device, a pump controller, and a pump. Its costs range about below 4 lakh. This innovation is giving agriculture irrigation facilities.
Also mitigating the need for the rural electricity demand. But it requires political attention & grants so that it can reach every poor farmers’ hand. This is amazing! Don’t you think so? Now see some general observation about the benefits and limitations of solar power:
- Using solar energy has two main advantages:Solar energy systems do not produce any air pollutants or carbon dioxide.
- Solar energy systems on buildings have marginal effects on the Environment.
Solar energy also has some limitations:
- The amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface is not always constant. The amount of sunlight varies depending on location, time of day, the season of the year, and weather conditions.
- The amount of sunlight reaches a square foot of the Earth’s surface is comparatively small, so a large surface area is essential to absorb or collect a proper amount of energy.
The question is – What are the obstacles to its way to reaching future reality? And what could be possibilities as a solution? Just have a look-
- Political factors are at play, and businesses lobby to maintain the status quo.
- But now, focus on the physical and logistical challenges.
- And the most obvious is that solar energy is unevenly distributed across the planet. Some areas are sunnier than others, and it’s also inconsistent.
- There is a low percentage of solar energy is available on cloudy days or at night.
- So the total reliance depends on efficient ways to get electricity from sunny spots to cloudy ones and sufficient energy storage.
- The efficiency of the cell is also a challenge. Photon energy is lost if sunlight is reflected instead of absorbed, or dislodged electrons fall back into a hole before going through the circuit. The most efficient solar cell yet can only convert 46% of the available sunlight to electricity. Most commercial systems are currently 15-20% efficient.
- Despite all these limitations, it is possible to power the entire world with today’s solar technology.
- We need funding to build the infrastructure.
- And a good deal of area estimated to range from tens to hundreds of thousands of square miles, which seems like a lot. But like many massive deserts of the world, the Sahar Desert alone is over 3 million square miles in area.
- However, it will cost biodiversity in different areas if it takes that much massive space to install. So if anyone is going to install a project like this, you have to shift the local species to another safe area where it will be undisturbed.
Now think! Think! And Think! Why not Space solar plant? It’s the way to beaming the future! Let’s see how it works and its possibilities:
Regular Solar panels only produce 20 gigawatts of energy that is less than 1% of the current time’s energy demand. It’s also costly as it costs $16 billion. Space-based solar power (SBSP) can directly receive & transform the massive amount of solar energy from outer space. It’s then distributed to the Earth.
The general structure is installing solar panels into Geosynchronous orbit, which is 35,000 km above the Earth.
SPS-alpha, a bell-shaped satellite arrangement of mirrors, reflects the sunlight’s photon on the photovoltaic board where the photon transformed into electricity. Then that electricity is, in turn, transformed into radio wave signal/microwave.
The microwave then beamed down & received by a microwave collector rectenna on Earth’s surface. Later in that collector, it further gets converted into electricity. Then that electricity could be used up by all over the planet earth.
It’s quite fascinating, isn’t it? Japan, China, and Russia are actively pursuing SBSP. Department of Energy & Pentagon (U.S. DoD) also acknowledged that technology is feasible where the world’s top experts worked.
In 2007, they concluded its feasibility but not 100% efficient and way too expensive. In 2015 the China Academy for Space Technology (CAST) showcased its space solar panel roadmap at the International Space Development Conference. So, your future might knock on your door anytime soon!
Do you know that – recently developing country like Bangladesh came up with its wonderful clean goal of ‘Solar Park’? Let’s have a look:
‘Solar Park’ is a revolutionary green energy option. It has established recently in Teknaf, Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh.
It is incorporating 20-megawatt solar energy to the locality of more than 40,000 populations—the electricity produced from these 341 panels reserved insignificant stations. Afterward, electricity moves to the substations of ‘Pollibiddut.’ The electricity is then directly transferred to the consumers’ national grids.
Each of the panels producing 4-megawatt electricity. They’re producing 12 megawatts out of 20 megawatts. It will meet the demand of the Coxs Bazar population, and the left will distribute all over the country. Bravo to Bangladesh!
How Solar energy impact on the Environment? Have a look.
Solar power plants are air pollution, water pollution, or greenhouse gas-free. Solar energy has a positive & indirect effect on the Environment.
But some toxic materials and chemicals are used to make the photovoltaic (P.V.) cells. Some solar thermal systems use potentially hazardous fluids for transferring heat that could be harmful to the Environment if there is any leakage. U.S. environmental laws control the use and disposal of these materials.
Along with other power plants, huge solar power plants may affect the adjacent Environment near the location. The act of clearing land for construction and the power plant’s placement may cause long-term effects on the native plants and animals.
Some solar plants may need water for cleaning solar collectors and concentrators or for cooling turbine generators. Using large volumes of groundwater or surface water in some arid locations may affect the ecosystems that depend on these water resources. Besides, the beam of concentrated sunlight, a solar power tower, can kill birds and insects that fly into the beam.
Finally, the most vital critiques of solar energy are its initial costs. Another problem is the reliance on factors that people cannot control like cloud cover & massive area need. Today, Germany is an international leader in solar energy production.
Another good news to look at the 2017 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It says about the newly constructed utility-scale electric generators in the United States. It shows, the annual capacity-weighted average construction costs for solar photovoltaic systems continued to decrease. Have a look:
The decrease is in solar P.V. due to falling values in crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels. It saw their lowest average construction cost of $2,135 per kilowatt (kW) in 2017. Crystalline silicon axis-based tracking panels accounted for more than half of the solar P.V. capacity added in 2017. It shows 2.6 GW of added generating capacity.
Thus, we can conclude: Though it’s costly to install, solar energy offers a clean, renewable source of power. The crucial things to implement solar power-
- Project in any nation need public awareness
- General public education for solar energy
- Grants and forward movements of Government, public & private investors, and people in the business.
Space or area crises would not be a matter of problem for the project establishment. It could be constructed on general public properties and different infrastructures worldwide. The recent cost of the solar panel is within reach of the general public. It’s also quite competitive with the exported liquid fuel demand. It could further bring energy security globally. It’s non-exhaustible, safe & clean, and produced from nature. The crucial thing is the investor has to use the quality product with proper maintenance, solar knowledge & awareness.
Solar technology will be more advanced & cheap worldwide within a few years. The solar panel installation on the rooftop infrastructure is feasible & considered a competitive business option. Let the future to come!
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