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Solar Energy Facts

Posted by Pearl Mberede on June 19, 2019

The word “solar energy” can sound scary and may seem overwhelming, but really the principle is simple and will be explained in understandable terms in this blog. We will break down in simple terms the basic physics you need to know about solar energy.

It’s interesting, the level of attention the solar energy sector is gaining these days, but why not, when it provides seamless and clean energy alternative.

Now, even if you do not have in-depth knowledge of what solar energy is, I am going to show you just all you need to know about one of the fasted growing alternative power supplies, and please don’t be worried there will be no physics and mathematical equation here to complicate things.

What is solar energy?

Solar energy is simply, radiation from the sun that generates electricity which we use for domestic and commercial application. So, in a nutshell solar energy is radiation gotten from the sun which is then converted to electricity.

The sun emits abundant   energy to the earth, which when properly harnessed is capable of serving man’s energy needs all year round.

Component of solar energy system

Solar panels

Solar panels, also known as PV (Photovoltaic) panels are devices which are used to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity or heat. Solar panels are made up of solar cells, these cells are silicon which are semi-conductor.

Types of Solar panel

They are various types of solar panel which are categorized according to the material in the solar cell manufacturing. Each of the solar panel types has their various power units.

The most common solar panel used is:

  • Monocrystalline silicon
  • Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon
  • Amorphous silicon

Monocrystalline silicon           

This is the most efficient type of solar panel and it can be black or blue in colour, but mostly black. Monocrystalline is made from single-crystalline silicon and has an efficiency of 15%-20%, according to Wikipedia, with a recorded single-junction cell lab efficiency of 26.7%, mono-crystalline silicon has the highest confirmed conversion efficiency out of all commercial PV technologies, ahead of poly-Si (22.3%) and established thin-film technologies, such as CIGS cells (21.7%), CdTe cells (21.0%), and a-Si cells (10.2%).  The performance advantage of Monocrystalline enables that, fewer panel are used to produce significant amount of power when compared to other types of solar panel. The major disadvantage of Monocrystalline is the cost, it is expensive. Also, it can be affected by high temperature and experience loss but this loss is not much compared to other solar panels.

Polycrystalline (or multi-crystalline) silicon

Efficiency of the polycrystalline silicon is 13-16% and it is made up of multi -crystalline the silicon is melted and poured into square molds, giving it a perfect square cell. There is less wastage of silicon during production. The Polycrystalline is cheaper and easier to produce compared to Monocrystalline silicon.

Amorphous Silicon

This is the least efficient, when compared to the two stated above, it has an efficiency of 6-7%. Thin-film solar panels have an advantage of lower losses during high temperature or in other words perform better in hot climates and low irradiation conditions, that is early in the morning, at sunset and in cloudy weather partial shading conditions.

Now we know the common types of solar panel, what solar energy is all about, let’s progress forward to some interesting facts.

Interesting Facts about Solar Energy

There are a lot of interesting things you probably didn’t know about solar energy, below are some facts that I would like you to know about Solar Energy:

  • The process of harnessing solar power was first discovered by Alexandre Edmond Becquerel in 1839. He figured out the photovoltaic effect, or how to create an electrical current in a conductor that’s hit by the sun’s rays.
  • Every square meter of our planet receives around 1,366 watts of direct solar radiation.
  • If properly harnessed 1% of Sahara Desert in Africa is capable of generating enough solar energy for the world.
  • Sunlight takes eight minutes to reach Earth and a few second longer to make contact with your solar panels to charge them up.
  • Most solar panels have 200- or 250-watt capacities.
  • The majority of solar panels can produce eight to ten kilowatts of energy per square foot.
  • Solar panels don’t need direct sunlight to produce electricity, however, direct sunlight produces the most energy.
  • The sun burns hydrogen currently. One day when hydrogen will be exhausted, it will switch to helium but that doesn’t matter for solar panels. They’ll continue to use the sun’s rays to create electricity.
  • Airplanes can fly around the world while running entirely on solar energy.
  • Solar power is one of the cleanest, most sustainable, and most renewable resources in the world.
  • Solar power does not create any noise pollution; solar panels silently create energy from the sun’s rays.
  • The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008 and it is expected to keep falling.
  • The sun receives enough sunlight in one hour to generate a year worth of power for the entire planet
  • Low Maintenance and Running Costs
  •  Reduced Contribution to Global Warming

Advantages of Solar Energy

Apart from the fact that we have abundant supply of solar energy in the world, there are also interesting benefits of solar energy.

Easy Maintenance

One of the amazing things about solar energy is that, it is easy to maintain. You do not require any special kit to keep it up and running. Most solar panels manufacturers sell their solar panels with up to 25 years warranty, this implies, it is durable. In most case the only maintenance required is to clean it periodically.

Boosts Property Value

There is high value for properties that have solar energy as their energy source, installed either as an on-grid system or off-grid system. Real estate investors or appraisers give higher considerations to houses that have solar system installed. Ugetproperties been one of the most trusted properties hubs in Nigeria, makes it easy for home buyers and real estate investors to access such properties.

  • Return of Investment

Because of its durability, low maintenance and abundant supply of energy. One can easily regain their investment while using solar energy in their house or business.

Reduces Global Carbon Foot-Print

One of the amazing features of solar energy is the fact that it produces little or no pollution to the environment. According to Energysage, the electricity that solar panels produce is completely emissions free. When you use renewable solar energy to meet your energy needs, you reduce the demand for electricity from your utility. As a result, your utility plant emits less carbon when producing the power needed to meet customer demand. By using solar energy, you are protecting the environment.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Although the advantages of solar energy supersede the disadvantages, below are of the problem of solar Energy.

High Cost of Solar Energy Storage

The good thing about using solar energy is that you have abundant supply of energy throughout the day, but what happen when the sun goes down? That is why the need for back up is necessary, the need for special storage batteries like deep cycle batteries comes into place. These batteries on the other hand don’t come cheap.

Takes a lot of Space

While using solar energy, the more power you will need, the more solar panels you will need to install and to install these panels require space. Hence, solar energy can be space consuming. A way of solving this could be using the solar panels as garages, by doing so you save and utilize space.

Having gone through this article, you have successfully gained an insight into what solar energy is all about.

Do you find this article interesting or useful? Drop your comments and thoughts in the comment section below.

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