- 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.
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
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.