Solar power is energy that is derived from the sun and converted into heat or electricity. It is a versatile source of renewable energy that can be used in an amazing number of applications, providing power for everything from cars and boats to houses and spacecraft. The most commonly used solar technologies for homes and businesses are solar water heating, passive solar design for space heating and cooling, and solar photovoltaics for electricity.
Businesses and industry also use these technologies to diversify their energy sources, improve efficiency, and save money. Solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies are also being used by developers and utilities to produce electricity on a massive scale to power cities and small towns.
Advantages of solar energy:
Over its 35-year expected life, a 10 kW system will provide CO2 reduction equivalent to planting 1450 trees. In comparison to a coal fired power plant, a 10 kW system will prevent emissions of 435,5 tons of carbon dioxide, 1905 kg of sulfur dioxide, and 635 kg of nitrogen oxides. It will produce 575,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, as much as would be generated by burning 264,5 tons of coal.
Solar panels vs. traditional power source:
|Fossil fuels||Solar Energy|
|Fuel Sourcing||Fossil fuels must be located, excavated and transported before they can be used. These processes are invasive and detrimental to the land through side effects such as erosion and ecological and geologic instability. Then the deposit or well is depleted.||Energy from the sun is infinite and free. It can be harnessed and turned into power anywhere a solar panel can be mounted.|
|Power Generation||Fossil fuels must be burned to produce electricity. Burning them creates unwanted byproducts that can create air and water pollution and release huge amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.||solar panels produce power without waste or emissions, and do so through a natural process called photovoltaics.|
|Cost of Consumer Electricity||Whether you buy a system and pay it back with electricity savings or you pay a low, fixed rate for your power through a solar PPA, you’ll hit the point where your solar panels have paid for themselves.||with utility rates climbing regularly, each year you’ll save more with solar than the year before.|
|The Human Element||Fossil fuel deposits are scattered and finite. Their economic worth and uncertainty are enough to cause disagreements that can lead to labor strikes, price volatility, and even war.||Solar energy is available nearly everywhere, and will be for another 5 billion years.|
Our solar CSP and PV business is significant and growing. We provide a comprehensive range of technical and commercial advisory services and have proven expertise in all areas of management, safety and technical support from project assessment, development and contract strategy to procurement and project delivery for both:
Even though solar radiation is a source of high temperature and energy at origin, with a high radiosity of 63 MWm², sun–earth geometrical constraints lead to a dramatic dilution of flux and to irradiance available for terrestrial use only slightly higher than 1 kW/m², and consequently, supply of low temperatures to the thermal fluid. It is therefore an essential requisite for solar thermal power plants and high-temperature solar chemistry applications to make use of optical concentration devices that enable the thermal conversion to be carried out at high solar flux and with relatively little heat loss.
The optimum CSP system design combines a relatively large, efficient optical surface (e.g., a field of high-reflectivity mirrors), harvesting the incoming solar radiation and concentrating it onto a solar receiver with a small aperture area. The solar receiver is a high-absorptance and transmittance, lowreflectance, radiative/convective heat exchanger that emulates as closely as possible the performance of a radiative black body. An ideal solar receiver would thus have negligible convection and conduction losses.
In the case of a solar thermal power plant, the solar energy is transferred to a thermal fluid at an outlet temperature high enough to feed a heat engine or a turbine that produces electricity. The solar thermal element can be a parabolic trough field, a linear Fresnel reflector field, a central receiver system or a field of parabolic dishes, commonly designed for a normal incident radiation of 800–900 W/m².
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How do Photovoltaic systems work?
Solar PV is used primarily for grid-connected electricity to operate residential appliances, commercial equipment, lighting and air conditioning for all types of buildings. Through stand-alone systems and the use of batteries, it is also well suited for remote regions where there is no electricity source. Solar PV panels can be ground mounted, installed on building rooftops or designed into building materials at the point of manufacturing.
The efficiency of solar PV increases in colder temperatures and is particularly well-suited for Canada's climate. A number of technologies are available which offer different solar conversion efficiencies and pricing.
Solar PV modules can be grouped together as an array of series and parallel connected modules to provide any level of power requirements, from mere watts (W) to kilowatt (kW) and megawatt (MW) size.
The size of the solar array, battery bank, and AC inverter required for a typical solar PV application depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of electricity you use, the amount of sunlight at the site, the number of days without backup that you require, and the peak electricity demand at any given time. Sufficient battery storage can easily allow a solar PV system to operate fully independently of a utility or genset back-up.
PV modules should be oriented between south-east and south-west (due south is best). Modules generally need an unobstructed view of the sun all the year. Systems can be sized to provide 100 percent of your electricity consumption at a cottage or campsite, or as a supplement to conventional utility electricity or genset electricity. A tracking system can orient the solar array to maximize its electricity production throughout the day and the year by tracking the movement of the sun, though this is typically not practical for most applications.
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