Solar Power And A Brief History
Solar power is derived by harnessing energy from the sun and converting it into other forms for use.There are two types of energy produced by the sun. One is Light and the other is Heat.
Photovoltaic (PV) Panels convert sunlight into Direct Current (DC) while Solar Thermal is the technology which utilizes the sun’s heat for heating and also for electricity production.
History teaches us that solar power,which is a subset of solar energy, has been used by humans as early as the 7th century B.C. where they light fire by using a magnifying glass material.The Romans and the Greeks used mirrors to light torches which in my view led to the development of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP).
Bell Labs developed the first modern silicon photovoltaic cell in 1954,which allowed solar power to become a viable source of energy but was too costly for commercial use.Much of the early PV technology was pioneered by the U.S. government and as a result in 1958,the U.S.Naval Research Labatory launched the first spacecraft to use solar panels.
There are basically two types of solar power systems.One which produces electricity and the other produces thermal energy for water and space heating,In our discussion we will also be looking at the different types of electric solar power systems and why they should be utilized in powering our businesses and homes.
Types Of Electric Solar Power Systems
There are four main types of electric solar power systems. These are
- Grid Tied
- Grid Tied With Battery Backup
- Grid Assisted
- Off Grid
Grid Tied Electric Solar Power System
In the grid tied electric solar power system,the solar panels and the inverter are tied in to the electric power grid,otherwise called the domestic power supply.This is done to offset the cost of your elecric bill and can also be a revenue source in that the utility company pays you for any excess power supplied to the grid.This means if you use less power than what the solar system generates,the rest is fed to your utility provider.This process is called net billing.
This system offers the lowest system cost and the best return on investment.It is best suited for those who want to save money on their energy cost.The disadvantage of this type of system is whenever there is a power outage,the system will shut down.So if you are in an area where there are frequent disruptions to your power supply,you may want to choose a different system.
Grid Tied With Battery Backup
Living in an area where your utility power is unrealiable can be a headache especially when you are in the midst of doing something which requires electricity.A grid tied electric solar system with a backup battery bank is a solution to that problem.This system has two inverters connected to it. One which is tied to the grid and the second provides electricity to the appliances.
This system will definitely be more costly that the one earlier because of the additional components which have to be installed.It also has more technical challenges due to the fact that calculations have to be worked out in order to determine the size inverter,cabling and battery bank needed.
Whenever there is an electrical outage from your utility provider,your battery bank provides power to the secondary inverter which transform the direct current from the batteries,into alternating current for use.Net metering can also be incorporated with this system.
Grid Assisted Solar Power System
A grid assisted solar power system is similar the the ones mentioned before.However this system uses the utility grid as a back up source.This means that the grid will turn on automatically when the batteries are low on power.
Off Grid Solar system
The off grid electric solar power system is completely independent of the utility grid.These are typically employed where there is no utility power available,or it is too costly to install because of the distance from your home to the grid.This system is similar to the grid assisted system with the exception of a grid tied inverter.An off grid inverter is used instead to convert the dc power from the solar panels,into alternating current for household and commercial use.
Hybrid Solar Power System
A hybrid solar power system is one that combines solar power from photovoltaic modules with power from other power generating source or sources,stores that power in a battery bank and/or sell that excess power to the utility company if such an arrangement is available in your territory.
A diesel generator can be used in this scenario but in keeping with idea of using renewable energy sources,a windmill would be my product of choice.
Solar Trackers are devices which are used to direct solar panels toward the sun while changing its orientation with the movement of the sun.This is done to maximize the amount of energy which is produced by the sunlight on a daily basis.Fixed solar panels only produce a fraction of the energy which is produced by panels on a tracker.
Trackers however can be a bit expensive so one would have to decide whether to add additional panels to an installation for increased power,or to invest in a tracker system.
Reasons For Investing In Electric Solar Power Systems
Solar power systems use the energy from the sun to produce electricity and / or heat for millions of people around the world.These systems provide clean,renewable energy to their users and as a result,help to create a cleaner environment.Electric solar power systems are eco friendly products because they do not pollute the atmosphere as gas and diesel electric power producing products do.
The use of solar electric power systems reduces your utility electricity bill and they also have a low maintenance cost.The return on investment in solar energy is also a great reward for incorporating solar in your energy mix.The return on investment can range between ten to thirty percent and can pay for itself in about eight to ten years.
Some states in the USA provide tax credit (ITC) for owners of solar power systems which can be claimed as a credit on your federal tax return.This is available for both resedential and commercial owners.The value of your property also increases with the installation of an electric solar system.
These are some of the main reasons why investing in solar energy is a win for you as a customer and for the environment which we all have a duty to protect.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is,we all have a responsibility to protect the environment by investing in eco friendly products and devices that will help to save our planet,while at the same time saving money.There was a study at the Univerdity of Texas which shows that natural gas,solar and wind are the cheapest ways to generate electricity,
While the start up cost may be more expensive presently, the long term savings is worth every penny.I would therefore encourage you to make an investment in Electric Solar Power by checking with your country or state to find out the incentives that are available for such and investment.
Lets go green together.