Since its discovery in 2010, solar power has been hailed as the next big thing in energy. The technology is becoming more accessible and cheaper to own and operate, which means more and more people can generate their own energy – resulting in reductions in both air and food pollution.
In the fight against climate change, climate activists have championed solar power because it is a zero-carbon energy source. Some cities have gone as far as making it legal to produce your own solar energy.
However, while generating your own electricity may seem like a wonderful idea, solar power is not without its flaws.
Where Does the Energy Go?
One of the biggest concerns with solar power is where does the energy go when it is not being used?
Since solar cells are not naturally occurring and must be manufactured, there is always the chance that they could be faulty and inefficient. A 2015 report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed that 29% of the world’s solar panels are now 15 years old or more, which means they were built during a period of time when the technology was not yet fully developed.
This is bad news for the environment, as a large number of solar panels being inefficient results in large amounts of energy being wasted. The report also states that solar panels made during this time did not perform as well as new solar panels, which emphasizes the importance of keeping up with technology improvements.
Are They Cost-Effective?
The prices for solar energy have been dropping markedly in recent years, and now make up a small fraction of our energy bills. It is important to remember that the capital cost of installing solar panels is high, so make sure you plan your financials correctly before committing to this energy source.
Even still, as solar power becomes more and more affordable, many people are still unable to afford the upfront costs of installing solar panels. For these people, alternative options such as wind turbine generators and hydroelectricity are still the most cost-effective energy sources.
If you are interested in generating your own electricity and would like to avoid the high cost of installing solar panels, then keep reading.
How Does It Work?
If you are interested in how solar power works, then the simplest description is this: sunlight directly enters the solar cell and is converted to electricity via photovoltaic effects (more commonly known as the law of solar conservation).
The conversion is so efficient that only a small amount – about 0.2% to 0.5% of the total sunlight – is needed to generate enough electricity for a single house. This makes solar power a very clean and green energy source.
In terms of materials, photovoltaic cells are mostly composed of silicon and other semi-conductors. These are, in turn, manufactured from minerals mined from the earth. In recent years, due to increased demand and lower costs, more and more minerals are being extracted from the earth to manufacture solar-powered devices.
How Many Watts Do They Produce?
In terms of the amount of electricity produced by solar power, this is always expressed in kilowatts (kW). A typical solar photovoltaic panel will produce around 10 to 15kW of electricity, depending on the quality of the panel and the conditions under which it is being used.
Photovoltaic cells produce a direct correlation to the amount of sunlight directly hitting them. More sunlight results in more electricity being generated. However, because it is not practical or desirable to line every rooftop with solar panels, due to shading, the actual power produced by any single panel will be lower than the theoretical maximum.
How Many Solar Panels Do I Need To Install?
There are three major things to consider when determining how many solar panels you need for your home:
- how much electricity do you need?
- how large is your roof?
- how much space do you have for the equipment?
The amount of electricity you need is easily calculated by looking at your daily energy consumption. For example, if you use 10kW daily and live in a country where electricity is not extremely expensive, you may only need a single 20kW panel. If you use 15kW daily and live in a country where electricity is twice as expensive as in the first case, you may need two 20kW panels. This will always be the case as long as energy consumption remains the same.
To find out how much roof space you have, you will need to measure the length and width of your roof in meters. Make sure to take into account any overhangs or raised areas on your roof, which could increase the amount of space you have for solar equipment. Once you have this number, you can easily determine how many solar panels you will need.
Finally, you need to consider how much space you have for the equipment. If you have a large garage or an attic space, you may have enough room to store all of the equipment you need. Another option is to build a small shed for the equipment. You must take into account how much space you have and whether you will need a place for the panel to be stored when it is not in use.
When choosing which energy source to adopt, it is important to weigh all of the pros and the cons. While solar power has many benefits, it is not a perfect solution. For example, it cannot produce continuous energy and must be stored in large batteries for use at all times. Furthermore, the amount of energy produced will always be dependent on the amount of sunlight directly hitting the panel. If you live in a country where the sun does not appear during a significant portion of the year, you may not be able to rely on solar power as an energy source.
On the other hand, if you live in a country where the sun is directly overhead at noon during the entire year, you may want to consider investing in wind turbine generators or hydroelectricity. In this case, the energy produced will not be dependent on the weather, and you can always rely on it.
Choosing a renewable and clean energy source to power your home is critical for the future of our planet. If we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must cut down on our energy consumption and cease using fossil fuels. Fortunately, there are many sustainable and renewable options available to us, so we need not be limited by the technologies of the past.