Solar Panels and Green Energy
In case you haven’t noticed, your monthly electricity bill is climbing. Summers are getting hotter, and electric bills are getting more expensive. The price of oil is climbing too.
Go ahead; check this month’s light bill. Not one part of the bill that you receive each month from the light company is good news. It is bad news and some people cringe when they see it in their mailbox. Sure, for some businesses and fortunate individuals that can afford solar panels on their homes or place of business, their light bill provides a fun, interesting topic of conversation each month — but for the rest of us, a light bill is just plain depressing. Why? Because most of us can not afford solar systems on our homes, until now. Fortunately, the facts surrounding solar panels have changed. Solar technology has evolved to be more efficient and more affordable. This is good news for home and business owners — very good news.
What is solar power?
Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaics converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect.
Selecting a location for solar panels
Solar panels installed on the east or west will not produce as much energy as those on the south, which means that if you do not have southern exposure, you will need more panels to provide the same amount of energy. Solar panels should never be mounted on the north side of the residence.
Nighttime and Cloudy Days
The biggest problem with solar energy is that it is intermittent. When there is not much sunlight due to clouds, the power generated fades. Solar systems of the past attempted to solve this problem with battery backups that would store excess energy. That power is available for use, but it is a finite amount of energy. What happens if you live in an area that has a week or even more of consecutive cloudy days? Even during cloudy days, you can generate some energy – it just won’t be as much. Until now…
Solar technology that works at night
New technology has been developed that will allow for cheap solar energy technology that will draw energy after the sun has set from ambient light. The technology uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny square spirals, or “nanoantennas”, of conduction metal onto a sheet of plastic and it is estimated that individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80% of the available energy in comparison to current commercial solar panels which usually transform less that 20%.
Sanyo has developed solar panels appropriately named HIT Double. The back face of a HIT Double panel generates electricity from ambient light reflected off surrounding surfaces and combines with power from the front face of the panel. Depending upon system design, this results in up to 30% higher power generation per square foot.
Energy savings and solar panels
Researchers have conducted studies on solar panels and the potential for energy savings for quite some time. High Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) roofs can offer direct energy savings usually between 10-30% for average daily summertime loads as well as peak summertime loads. Here in Texas, the summer time months are brutal with temperatures reaching as high as 105 degrees. A study in Austin, Texas found that a commercial building with a solar system installed on the roof generated an average savings of $25 per day, in some situations, drops in utility bill charges between $10 and $100 occurred, and as energy rates rise, savings increase.
The future of solar power in the United States
General Electric says it is going to build the nation’s largest solar panel factory, part of a $600 million dollar bet on the future of solar power in the United States. GE recently acquired PrimeStar Solar Inc. a maker of thin film solar panels based in Colorado. The new plant will employ 400 people and produce enough solar panels to power 80,000 homes per year.
Solar panels cost down
Over the years, the cost of solar panels has gone down. But, we suspect that in order for renewable energy sources to replace our dependency on fossil fuels, the cost of residential solar power systems must come down even more.
Decreasing prices and high demand
The price of solar panels has decreased more than 40% than the previous year. As a result, demand of the solar panels is now significantly higher. Federal incentives about solar technology are another reason for the decreasing prices for solar panels.
Green, solar energy
Even the most successful companies are including solar in their portfolio of energy. Many new residential homes that are being built are too. More residents and professionals are looking to clean, renewable energy sources such as solar.