Solar energy is one of the directions of alternative energy. Technologies in this field are being implemented in many countries, as they see great prospects. The essence of this type of renewable energy is that the energy of the Sun is drawn, and as a result, electricity is generated.
To shorten the cycle as much as possible, specialists from this field are working to change the process, during which solar power is converted into electricity. This will increase efficiency. The advantage of using the Sun is that this renewable energy is not exhausted, and no waste is required to be disposed of because there are none.
Advantages of Solar power
Such development of alternative energy sources, as today, should be expected. The catastrophic deterioration of the ecological situation in the world, as well as unreasonable economic dependence on traditional sources, led to the fact that scientists began to assess the energy potential of natural phenomena and gradually found methods of using it. So, now humanity has the opportunity to use the energy of the sun, wind, movement of water, heat, etc.
One of the most promising options for developing alternative energy in the industrial, economic and private sectors is solar energy. To obtain solar power, special stations have been created that convert solar energy into electricity.
Speaking of solar energy, it’s necessary to mention that it is a renewable energy source, unlike fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas, which are not being restored. According to NASA, about 6.5 billion years old, the inhabitants of the Earth have nothing to worry about – about as much as the Sun will warm our planet with its rays until it explodes.
The potential of solar energy is huge – the surface of the Earth is irradiated with 120 thousand terawatts of sunlight, which is 20 thousand times higher than the world demand for it.
The solar energy is inexhaustible and constant – it cannot be overpaid in the process of meeting the needs of mankind in energy carriers so that it will be enough in abundance and for the share of future generations.
In addition to other advantages of solar energy, it is available at every point in the World – not only in the equatorial zone of the Earth but also in the northern latitudes. For example, Germany currently occupies the first place in the world in the use of solar power and has its maximum potential.
5. Ecological cleanliness
In light of the latest trends in the struggle for the ecological purity of the Earth, solar energy is the most promising sector, which partially replaces the energy received from non-renewable fuel resources and, thus, is a fundamental step towards protecting the climate from global warming. The production, transportation, installation and use of solar power plants is practically not accompanied by harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Even if they are present in an insignificant measure, when compared to traditional sources of energy – this is almost zero impact on the environment.
Because in systems on the solar resource there are no moving nodes, as, for example, in generators, the generation of electricity is noiseless.
7. Efficiency, low operating costs
Moving to solar panels as an autonomous energy source, owners of frequent houses receive tangible savings. It is also important that low costs characterize maintenance of solar-powered power systems – it is only necessary to clean solar cells several times a year, and the manufacturer’s warranty on them is usually 20-25 years.
8. Extensive field of application
Solar energy has a wide range of applications – it is the generation of electricity in regions where there is no connection to a centralized power supply system, and desalination of water in Africa, and even the supply of energy to satellites in near-earth orbit. Not in vain, the solar power is recently called “folk” – this name reflects the simplicity of its integration into the electricity supply system at home, both in the case of photoelectric and thermal elements.
9. Innovative technologies
Every year, technologies in the production of solar cells are becoming more sophisticated – thin-film modules are introduced directly into building materials at the stage of the erection of structures. Japanese concern Sharp – the leader in the production of solar panels, recently launched an innovative system of transparent storage elements for window glazing. Modern achievements in the field of nanotechnology and quantum physics allow us to talk about a possible increase in the power of solar panels in 3 times.
Disadvantages of solar energy sources
Alternative energy is an inexhaustible source of power with the highest potential. The energy of the sun is widely available, does not pollute the environment, does not produce carbon dioxide emissions. Among all the renewable energy sources available on Earth, solar is one of the most widely used renewable sources.
It is used to produce electricity, arrange swimming pools, heating or heating water. A huge number of technologies using renewable energy from the Sun are at the initial stage of development. On March 9, 2015, the first solar-powered aircraft set off on a journey around the Earth. The place of development and start of the aircraft of Abu Dhabi is chosen for a reason. The countries of the Persian Gulf invest a lot of money in the development of renewable energy sources. There is no doubt that this type of renewable energy will play an important role in meeting the demand during the coming deficit of electricity production.
Despite the huge number of advantages, solar energy has some disadvantages. Each buyer should know these weak points before installing solar panels in the country or a private house.
1. High cost
The initial cost of purchasing and installing solar panels for home always pushes potential buyers and is the first drawback. The cost of installing such panels is quite high. While in some countries government subsidy programs and tax breaks cover part of the installation costs, this is still not enough to efficiently use solar power. Can pass from 10 years to 15 years, before the savings will override the amount of initial investment. When installing an alternative energy system, it is not always about the payback period. The main advantage is independence from fossil fuels. As the development of new technologies, the cost of solar panels decreases. By 2018, we will see an increase in the use of solar panels to generate electricity in private homes by 120%.
Because sunlight is not available at night, as well as on cloudy and rainy days, solar energy cannot be the primary source of electricity. But, in comparison with wind turbines, this, after all, is a more stable option.
3. High cost of energy storage
Batteries that allow you to accumulate energy and smooth, to some extent, the instability of solar power supply, is distinguished by a high price that is not available to every homeowner. Simplifies the situation by the fact that the peak of electricity consumption is just at daylight hours.
4. Minor pollution of the environment
Despite the fact that compared to the production and processing of other types of energy resources, solar energy is most friendly to the natural environment, some technological processes for manufacturing solar panels are accompanied by the emission of greenhouse gases, nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride.
5. The use of expensive and rare components
The release of thin-film solar panels requires the introduction of cadmium telluride (CdTe) or indium gallium selenide (CIGS), which are rare and expensive – this entails a rise in the cost of alternative energy supply systems in general.
6. Low power density
One of the critical parameters of the electric power source is the average power density, measured in W/m2 and characterizing the amount of energy that can be obtained from a unit of energy source area. This indicator for solar radiation is 170 W / m2 – it is more than other renewable natural resources but lower than oil, gas, coal and nuclear power. For this reason, to generate 1 kW of electricity from solar heat requires a large area of solar panels.
New types of photocells
Recently, the production of thin-film photocells has been actively developing, which contain only about 1% of silicon concerning the mass of the substrate on which thin films are deposited. Because of the low consumption of materials on the absorbing layer, thin-film silicon photocells are cheaper in production, but so far they have less efficiency and unavoidable degradation of characteristics over time. Also, the production of thin-film photocells on other semiconductor materials, in particular, CIS and CIGS, is developing.
Solar power is widely used for both electricity generation and water heating. Solar collectors are made of available materials: steel, copper, aluminum, etc., without the use of scarce and expensive silicon. This allows to significantly reduce the cost of equipment and energy produced on it. Currently, heating the water with the sun is the most efficient way of converting solar energy.