- Dish Stirling engine systems are made of standalone parabolic reflector concentrating light onto a receiver placed at the reflector’s focal point. The reflector follows the sun along two axes.
- Solar Power Tower. This is made up of an array of dual axis tracking reflectors. The mirrors concentrate sunlight on a central receiver which is on top of a tower. The receiver boiler contains fluid which is heated and transferred to a secondary system where it is converted to steam to power a turbine generator. Power towers are efficient and have good energy storage potential.
- Parabolic Trough. Parabolic trough systems are made of a linear parabolic reflector concentrating sunlight onto a receiver tube placed along the reflector’s focal line. The receiver tube is filled with a primary working fluid and transfers heat to a secondary system where it can be converted to steam to power a turbine generator. The reflector tracks the sun during daytime.
- Concentrating Linear Fresnel Reflector. Fresnel reflectors are composed of many flat and thin mirror strips. The system concentrates sunlight onto control tubes containing the primary working fluid. Flat mirrors are expensive than parabolic reflectors and allows more reflective surface area.
- Depending on the location and the kind of solar PV tracking being used, the current breakeven point is for systems sizes between 500 to 600 watts. The breakeven point is where the solar tracker system pay for itself and make the entire system economically positive. It will be more advantageous to use solar trackers than buying PV panels if one has six 75 watt solar panels being used with a solar PV tracker that tracks the sun from morning until night.
- Using solar trackers during summer where the panels can generate the most electricity can build electricity surplus, which may be sold to the utility in some cases that can be used to offset during winter time.
- The kind of tracker being used will depend on the location and the amount of sun received. In cold and windy places, a thermally operated system is not reliable because it is dependent on temperature to operate. Electronically operated systems are better in cold and windy places, as they do not depend on temperature capacity to move the panels.
- Solar trackers are very valuable investment as they increase solar panels’ efficiency from 25% to 40%.
- Storage tank (may be a combination of existing heating systems)
- Expansion tank
- Solar station with pump
- Solar fluid
- Mounting hardware and
The Department of Energy (DOE) has recently stated that up to half of the cost in solar power installations is due to administrative tasks. These administrative or soft costs are the costs associated with permitting, zoning, metering, financing and arranging a grid connection. Obviously, until grid parity with fossil fuels is reached, then the growth of solar will lag
Department of Energy’s (DOE) Plan to Lower Administrative Costs The DOE realizes that the United States needs to take steps to make the cost of solar more competitive by substantially reducing the amount of red tape involved in the permitting process. Reducing the cost of installing solar power systems for home and small commercial properties has now become a top priority with the DOE. They believe
that reducing the soft costs will increase the number of installations and invariably will bring down the cost of hardware.
The DOE has awarded a total of $12.5 million in grants to 22 entities in a competition called the Rooftop Solar Challenge, which was created to come up with better processes with the ordinances, which haveSunShot Initiative, fashioned in the spirit of the moon shot program during the Kennedy administration to put a man on the moon. At its completion, the DOE will develop best-practice guides for implementation. It hopes to be able to lower kW-hour down to 6 cents by using the new criteria in these guides. They are also hopeful that by achieving this new price point, solar power will be able to account for 15% to 18% of the country’s electricity generation by 2030.
Other Initiatives to Make Solar Cost-Effective Cities like San Jose, Philadelphia and Portland have streamlined permitting for most installations while following code and maintaining safety. These jurisdictions allow for faster turnaround of permitting and less time for waiting on site for inspections. San Jose is now one of the lowest cost cities for solar in California.
SunRun headquartered in California and operating in several states, has come up with a business model to provide more affordable entry into solar by offering a fixed-rate program for 20 years whereby a household or business could purchase or lease a PV system. Going solar can be very expensive since purchasing a system could costs between $15,000 and $60,000. They pay for the installation and monitoring of their system for 20 years while the customer enjoys a fixed cost lower rate. In fact, it was SunRun who conducted a comprehensive study of the administrative costs of solar and offered their recommendations to the DOE.
Benefits of Streamlined Permitting Streamlined permitting processes can bring the cost of grid parity to 50% of Americans by 2013 and we could be able to close in on Germany’s 40% cost advantage. Germany has already reached $3.50/watt not including any subsidies. Although equipment costs are expected to fall to less than $1 per watt over the next year, without streamlined permitting and inspection procedures, the US will not only struggle to reach $3.50/watt price that Germany has, but also the longer term DOE goal of $1 per watt. Although there are some efforts in place, a more comprehensive program of lowering the costs of solar installations by simplifying permitting tasks is essential in the United States so that more Americans will be able to afford and enjoy the benefits of clean, renewable energy.Photo Credit: lotyloty
80% of World’s Population are Without Electricity
According to the research done for the Millennium Development Goals, there are approximately 6 billion people in this world and about 80% of them do not have access to electricity. The majority of these people are located in India and sub-Saharan Africa. Around four out of five people of those lacking access to electricity live in rural areas. By 2030, due to absence of energy policies, 1.4 billion people will still have no access to electricity.
Energy poverty will be a major issue in the coming decades. What is vital are the investment requirements for power generation in developing countries. From studies and estimation, this will amount to 2.1 trillion US dollars for the next 30 years. Research has shown that 400 million homes are without grid electricity and that these homes use the following as substitutes: kerosene lanterns, candles, car batteries, and diesel/kerosene generators.
Benefits of Solar Photovoltaic Energy for the Consumer in Developing Nations
If consumers in developing nations had access to solar photovoltaic energy, they would have brighter light at the flip of a switch and would have a cooler, more concentrated light. They would also have television without transporting heavy car batteries 2-4 hours a week as well as radio without the cost of dry cell batteries. In addition, consumers would have improved earnings from being able to work later in artisan shops and brighter lights for their shops without the use of expensive lanterns or generators. They would also have increased use for mobile phones and computers in their village areas.
Benefits of Solar Photovoltaic Energy for the Government
There are also benefits of solar photovoltaic energy from the standpoint of the Government. Solar photovoltaic energy is the cheapest alternative to grid extension in remote households without electricity. By using solar photovoltaic energy, it helps the economy in different ways: by giving those in rural areas a trained skill set; and increasing jobs in the area of business management, sales and marketing and installation and maintenance.
Solar photovoltaic energy reduces emissions at the point of use and therefore promotes a better health and environmental impact on the citizens of developing countries. It increases the likelihood of success for children as they are able to study into the evening hours. Best of all it dramatically improves the quality of life by bringing convenience, safety, entertainment and connectivity to the home.
Europe’s Initiative for Solar Voltaic Energy
The European Union has an admirable target for renewable energy. The Energy Package adopted by the Commission on January 10, 2007 proposes to obtain 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Developing nations can actually benefit from emulating the European Union’s ambitious objectives. Renewable energy, and sustainable energy at that, can bring significant changes and benefits to developing nations. These play a role in the reduction of poverty and improvement of the lives of the people.
Challenges to Bring Energy Sources to Developing Nations
The first challenge is economic as there is a need for increased supply of the appropriate energy source. Renewable energy such as solar, hydro-electric, biomass and wind can make a significant contribution to fighting the problems caused by the consumption of fossil fuels; which involves dependence on petrol producers, high fossil fuel prices, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. With the rapid rise in world oil prices, the price of importing energy commodities continues to escalate.
A second, important energy-related challenge is environmental. Energy use is a significant and immediate cause of high levels of air pollution and other forms of environmental degradation in many developing countries. Energy-related emissions from power plants, automobiles, heavy equipment and industrial facilities are largely responsible for levels of ambient air pollution—especially in major cities.
Getting electricity to developing nations can have its challenges, but they can be overcome. Proper solutions can be engineered after evaluation of existing or lack of existing grids to determine the best way to build or augment a system of efficient power output. Remaining mindful of the aggressive energy goals of both Europe and in California, more solutions can incorporate the use of solar photovoltaic energy for developing nations, which can make the increased availability of energy less expensive on both the pocketbook and on the environment.
As non-renewable sources of energy continue to deplete and as prices continually rise, people are now beginning to utilize alternative sources. One of the cheapest and readily available resources with the potential of energy conversion is the sunlight. Especially in vast areas, the sunlight is highly abundant and free. Fortunately and with the power of science, sunlight can now be easily converted into usable electricity through Solar PV panels. These are structures that perform the absorption, conversion and transfer of the energy from the sun to the form that households and businesses may use.
Across the globe, many countries are beginning to shift to solar energy. In fact, some smaller countries have begun to rely on solar energy alone. This development has been a medium for development in these countries as they no longer rely on crude oil that is usually imported. With its growing popularity and contribution to development, one may begin to wonder how Solar PV electrical panels work. Many would inquire about the science behind this breakthrough and how such structures are able to yield the electricity that now fuels a significant percentage of humanity.
The main component of Solar PV panels is solar cells. The solar or photovoltaic (PV) cell is responsible for the derivation of the electricity. Solar PV electrical panels are composed of groups of PV cells that are connected to put together the energy that they have converted. The collection of electric current from each of the solar cells flow through the inverter and to the appliances or equipment that requires electricity.
Most solar cells are made of the semiconductor silicon. It gathers the energy by absorbing the photons of the sunlight. This process results to heat that “excites” the electrons in the silicon. This “excitement” is the electric current that will be sorted and then distributed to the circuit that is connected to the receiving end. Since the circuit will carry out the collective amount of electricity produced, this amount depends on the number of solar cells. This is the reason why the size of the solar electric PV panels matter. The bigger the panel, the more the solar cells it can contain and the more electricity will be produced.
However, do not think that having bigger solar PV panels would readily mean that the much energy is produced. The efficiency of the panels also differs and this determines how much of the energy is absorbed, converted and transmitted. Currently, there are three kinds of solar cells that are being used. These are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation solar cells. Each one has varying efficiency and therefore, they also have varying costs.
It is highly recommended to seek professional advice to find out which type is suitable for your needs. This way, you can be more cost-efficient and at the same time ensure safety in your set-up.
The way by which solar electric PV panels work has been a breakthrough. And until today, researchers
There are specific reasons why the provision of energy is difficult among Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These are: limited internal markets, limited availability of manpower and institutional capacities and limited integration of different sectors like the energy sector and others. With this, the alternative is to resort on other renewable energy sources like solar power for the process of generating energy and despite the insufficient levels of efficiencies.
Solar energy is quite common in SIDS as it is basically use for heating water and drying crops for consumption. Solar energy is also utilized different ways such as through photovoltaic systems to provide electric power in various remote islands and rural areas particularly in dispersed settings. In Kiribati, solar panels are installed atop health centres and radiotelephone sites. In French Polynesian islands and Tuvalu, photovoltaic modules are used to provide lightning needs of households. In Papua New Guinea, a hybrid of wind turbines and solar panels is used to provide independent power supply to a school. Jamaica makes use of photovoltaic systems to provide electricity to at least 45 households.
However, installing photovoltaic systems installations are challenged by the cost of materials. Donors compensate for lack of capital. There are also banks that provide loans and grant for the purpose of purchasing solar heaters. That is, when there are no donors or institutions to acquire loans, there will be no installations and hence there will be no electricity.
Further, the cost of a solar power system will definitely depend on the lifestyle and perceived electricity usage. Likewise, the cost will depend on specific factors. First, you have to determine the number of solar panels or modules you might need. You should also consider the type of photovoltaic panels that you will use. Panels are not created equally since there are panels that are more energy efficient. If you are going to choose these, then you are going to need fewer panels, which would cost less.
Nevertheless, the solar power decision also depends on the number of inverters you might need. Inverters are available in different sizes, which means that the cost of inverters will depend on the size of the solar power system you intend to create. One inverter will do if your household is small to medium in size but you may need two or more inverters if you have big household. The number of strings in your solar panel will determine how many inverters that you will need as well.
Finally, the total cost of the solar power will also depend on which mounting system you will use. You have the prerogative to place the solar power system in either the roof or the ground or other shaded structures. Depending on your decision, the cost of the solar power system will vary.
There are many uses of solar power systems as evident among many of the SIDS. However, the cost of a solar power system depends on the number of solar panels, number of inverters and mounting system type. The goal is to build a solar power system that fits your household requirement.
Solar power basically refers to the process of converting sunlight into electricity. There are two ways to do this: photovoltaic (PV) or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP). Either of the two, the process aims at utilizing energy coming from the sun to boil water and then used this to provide power. While solar power technologies were already invented in 1860s, the popularity of coal and petroleum had stagnated what could have been the most important
Considerably, solar power is abundant and free. There is a need for countries that are blessed with year-round sunlight to tap into this opportunity of converting sunlight into solar power. Most African, Asian and Caribbean countries have limited national electricity grid coverage. The most isolated and remote areas thereby suffer due to their inability to access electricity. In Haiti, for instance, only 12.5% of the population have accessed to electricity, 25% of which is illegally connected. People living in non-grid areas depend on felling of trees to produce coal while others use wood as a fuel. This will not be sustainable unless they are planting trees to compensate what a household is using for a year. Put simply, this may jeopardize the environment.
What Haitians need is an access to alternative electricity sources to improve the quality of life of the people and make development a sustainable one. CSP makes use of mirrors with tracking systems, which is used to focus the sunlight onto a specified and small area. This concentrated sunlight is then utilized as heat source. There are different types of concentrating technologies like parabolic trough, dish Stirlings, concentrating linear and solar power tower. Peak temperatures and the optimal thermodynamic efficiency depend on which concentrators you will use. There is no best concentrator however because this will depend on the purpose and area which it will supply solar power.
PV, or photovoltaic, on the other hand, makes use of solar cells, which is used to create voltage upon exposure to direct sunlight. Solar cells can create electric current by converting the solar energy into an electron flow. Solar cells can thereby directly power different household items. Nevertheless, when more power is required, a series of solar cells that makes for solar panels is then created using electrical connections. These solar panels can be arranged into arrays to support the electrical needs of a household, for instance.
In summary, there are two solar power resources that can be made available for the Haitians. Haitians are currently suffering from inability to be serviced by electrical companies considering the limited output of the national electricity grid. Nevertheless, solar power can actually provide Haitians an easy access to electricity free of charge. This can be carried out through PV and CSP; which are both viable solar power applications.
Nico Hotz, a Duke University engineer has developed a new rooftop hybrid solar power generation system that operates considerably differently than conventional photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The system utilizes what looks like a typical rooftop PV array but the similarity ends there. The hybrid panel actually comprises a dense nest of copper tubing that carries a combination of water and methanol that is heated and catalytically stimulated to a reaction that produces hydrogen.
The hydrogen is used in fuel cells while it is produced during the day, with the excess being compressed and stored in tanks for use at night.
When discussing the system’s exergetic performance (a measure of how well a quantity of energy can be converted to useful work), in an article published by the Duke Pratt school of Engineering, Hotz said:
“The hybrid system achieved exergetic efficiencies of 28.5 percent in the summer and 18.5 percent in the winter, compared to 5 to 15 percent for the conventional systems in the summer, and 2.5 to 5 percent in the winter.”
Hotz’ hybrid solar power system allows for up to 95% of sunlight to be absorbed, resulting in temperatures within the tubes of up to 200 degrees Celsius, critical to the evaporation process for generating the hydrogen.
Comparing two alternative systems with Hotz’: one that generated electricity from PV cells in the traditional manner, and another that generated hydrogen via electrolysis, resulted in Hotz’ system prevailing relative to cost and efficiency if the system were designed to only meet summer demand. The solution would be more expensive than a classic fossil fuel system if it were designed to meet winter energy demands because more solar panels would be required. However, the owner of a hybrid solar energy system could potentially sell excess summer generated energy back to the grid which would make up for the higher initial capital investment.
Hotz’ project work is the type of thinking required in order for successful global migration away from fossil fuels. ReTech Power and Water Engineering applauds the work of Nico Hotz and his associates, recognizing that any goal truly worth achieving takes focus, work, trial, and error. This is one early case that has produced what appears to be a potentially viable result.