Thursday, September 29, 2022

Are Solar Panels Green Energy

Is Solar Actually Green

Renewable Energy: Solar Panels

Solar power is becoming increasingly common. Part of the key to its popularity is its scalability. While solar farms are becoming prevalent globally, of equal importance are the millions of individual small arrays being installed on houses and commercial property.

While all power generation has a footprint, that of solar power is a very small one. Yes, there are addressable problems with manufacture, but once panels are commissioned, they need very little maintenance. There are also questions about the recycling of photovoltaic panels, but many of those are posed simply because the technology is new. As the industry expands, the interest in recycling old panels will rise.

Everything humankind does has consequences, but there are few negative effects from the increase in solar power. Again, it is worth repeating that coal, oil and natural gas are infinitely more damaging to the environment than solar power.

Harvesting Sunshine In The High Mountains

The Muttsee near Basel is the highest reservoir in Switzerland. A large solar system has also been installed on the dam wall. It generates a lot of electricity, especially in winter, because modules are more efficient in cold weather and the snow reflects additional sunlight. The sunlight is much stronger at altitude, as the fog stays in the valley.

  • Date17.08.2021
  • Gero Rueter

Regulator Comfortable With Solar Expansion

Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer says Australia has plenty of low value land next to the grid that had already cleared, so it suits developments of this kind.

He understands why some farmers would be concerned about losing land for production out of their region, but he gets very few complaints about solar projects in general, especially once they are up and running.

He says there is no evidence to support the heat sink theory and he has had no complaints about cadmium contamination, but he does agree that solar projects need an “end of life” plan and wants to see default setbacks to protect neighbours.

“We have them in the wind industry and there should be setbacks from houses, roads, and other forms of public infrastructure,” he said.

My Dyer is concerned about possible contamination leaking from dumped panels and wants to see sites cleaned up at the end of life.

“Decommissioning plans should include removal of the panels from the site and appropriate disposal so they’re not causing long-term environmental harm,” he said.

Kane Thornton from the industry group the Clean Energy Council says the community broadly supports the growth in renewables, even though there are not many jobs on solar farms once they are built.

“They deliver low-cost power that can support other industries in the region and across the country,” she said.

Recommended Reading: How Much Does A Solar Power System Cost

What Is A Solar Battery

With a solar battery, you will not have to worry about running out of power for your home. When linked to solar panels, solar batteries allow you to operate off-grid if you wanted to, relying on energy created and stored in your solar setup fully powering your property.

Energy stored in solar batteries can even be sold back to the national grid, making it a profitable way to make money off of your surplus power build-up. Unlike every other kind of battery that runs out of power, solar batteries do not.

When your solar panels are generating power, the solar battery is recharging throughout the day constantly. This means that the home can effectively and effortlessly run on battery storage throughout the evenings.

How Much Money Will I Save

solar energy panel on blue sky background

When the British government ended solar panel Feed-In Tariff incentive payments in March 2019, it meant people no longer received payments for generating renewable electricity. New installations fell by 94% and the government were accused of actively dismantling the solar industry.

Fortunately a new law was decided back in June 2019 and implemented from January 2020. Homeowners who choose solar PV will be able to sell back energy they dont need to their supplier, the largest of whom are legally obligated to buy it. You can sell back up to half of the units of electricity you generate using an export meter, provided that your installation is above 30kW. This is at a cost of 5.24p per unit of electricity. You can also swap your energy supplier as often as you wish.

The other main advantage to solar panels now, is the huge reduction in your energy bills. Its estimated that panels installed in Liverpool might save you between £95-£230 per year, whereas London, more likely £100-£240 per year.

Savings depend on where you live, the size of your solar panels, how much electricity you use and other factors like how much the utility company charges for electricity.

Also worth noting is that the costs of solar panels and related products like battery storage have fallen dramatically and are likely to continue to drop, whilst the efficiency and longevity increase.

Recommended Reading: Can You Sell Solar Energy Back To The Power Company

How Long Does It Take For Solar Panels To Pay For Themselves

The average cost of a domestic solar panel installation is thought to be around $17,000, and at current rates, you may not recoup this cost for seven to 15 years, occasionally even longer. With the tax breaks and incentives offered in some states, this initial outlay may well be much lower, perhaps as little as $5,000, so payback time will be considerably shorter. Average savings after that are substantial, basically free electricity from that point on. Remember that solar panels can add value to your home and make it easier to sell.

What Are The Benefits Of Solar Energy

Installing solar panels brings with it several advantages. The use of natural energy not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it also saves you money on utility bills. Some of the benefits worth noting are:

  • Low maintenance: Solar panels are known for their durability and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They have an average life span of 30 years and are cheap to repair, and there’s no need to switch them out.

  • Free of cost: Energy produced by sunlight is free. So apart from the initial installation, there are no costs involved in using solar energy.

  • Green Energy: Electricity generated by solar panels is renewable and eco friendly, and it doesn’t emit any gasses or other harmful chemicals.

  • No noise output.

  • Ideal for people living in off-grid areas.

  • Unlimited renewable energy: Consumers don’t have to rely on power companies.

  • No more power outages.

  • Increases the value of your property: Homeowners are likely to gain a minimum increase of 20 percent on their property value.

Also Check: How Much Can Solar Panels Produce

Negative Environmental Impacts Solar Panels

Lets start by stating the obvious – solar power isnt perfect. Like everything in life, there are upsides and downsides.

This is especially true for small topics like generating energy for 7 billion people in a sustainable, economical way.

Solar power is not without its downsides. Lets examine them here:

1. Energy Demand – Solar requires a significant amount of energy up front to produce. Mining, manufacturing and transportation all require substantial amounts energy. Quartz must be processed, and cleaned and then manufactured with other components which may come from different facilities to produce a single solar module. Heating the quartz during the processing stage requires very high heat. Manufacturing requires combining multiple materials with incredible precision to produce high efficiency panels. All of this requires lots of up-front energy. With traditional fuels such as gas or goal,they are extracted, cleaned/processed and burned at very large scales,typically in a single location.

2. Chemicals To produce solar-grade silicon, semi-conductor processing typically involves hazardous chemicals. Depending on the solar panel manufacturer and country of origin, these chemicals may or may not be disposed properly. Like every industry, there are companies leading by example, and others which cut corners to save cash. Not every company will dump chemicals, or wont recycle their byproducts properly, but there are bad apples out there.

In Space With A Solar Sail

Renewable Energy 101: How Does Solar Energy Work?

Solar cells make longer space flights possible. Solar modules can be unfolded in space and supply stations like the ISS or satellites and unmanned capsules. Researchers are even thinking about solar parks in space. Solar exploration probes have already flown as far as Jupiter. There, however, the solar radiation is 25 times weaker than in Earth orbit because the sun is so far away.

Solar energy in unusual places

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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost

The cost of purchasing and installing solar panels for the home varies. Its best to request a solar assessment to get an accurate quote for your particular home.

The type of solar panel you choose can impact the price of your rooftop solar system. Monocrystalline solar panels are more expensive than polycrystalline panels because they are top-of-the-line quality with a higher efficiency rating and a more appealing look when installed on a rooftop. For these reasons, our preferred installation partners only install monocrystalline solar panels.

One way to offset the initial cost of a solar panel system is to put it to work for you. Green Mountain customers in Texas can enroll in our solar energy buy-back program, Renewable Rewards®, to get a monthly bill credit for 100% of the systems excess energy. Its a win-win for you and the planet.

And dont forget about the federal solar tax creditthrough 2021, you can deduct part of the solar systems cost on your federal tax return.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Solar Power

Solar PV Array

  • Energy Independence: Photovoltaic arrays provide the unique feature to promote energy independence of sites and environmentally friendly features that reduce our demand for natural resource production.
  • Unlimited Resource: Solar energy is a renewable energy that is based on the suns inexhaustible quantities.
  • No Pollution Produced: Solar panels do not pollute or emit greenhouse gases in its production or use.
  • Versatile: Solar energy can be used for a variety of functions and applications.
  • Ability for Additions: PV systems are modular and can be easily expanded upon or even transported in some cases.
  • No Cost After Installation: Like all renewable sources, solar energy is available at no cost once the infrastructure has been installed.
  • Costs: Solar power comes at high costs. However, financial incentives including federal tax credits reduce the installation cost significantly. Furthermore, capital costs are lowering for larger-scale projects.
  • Fluctuation of Energy: Solar panels cannot continuously produce the same amount of energy needs throughout the year. Energy absorption is base upon time of year and the sites location on the earths surface. Winter and wet seasons produce less sunlight than summer and dry season.

Also Check: Can Solar Panels Be Turned Off

Cost Of Additional Solar Panels

This was something that I was interested in about a year ago when I decided to expand my existing solar system. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, prices have significantly dropped and thereby increasing demand for solar panels.

And since my initial solar installation a few years ago, the average solar panel cost has almost halved per KW. You can expect to pay about $200 to $250 per panel or about $1 per Watt.

Also, keep in mind that the varying solar panels cost you find online is entirely dependent on the efficiency rating, so always keep that in mind when comparing prices.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your inverter may limit how many panels you can install before you need to replace that too, which could range between $1,000 and $1,500.

What Makes Solar Energy Green

Solar Power Deal Accelerates Pitts Sustainability ...

Solar energy is regarded as green because it uses a natural resource that cant run out and has almost no negative impact on the environment. The traditional energy sources of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and crude oil, by comparison, produce massive amounts of carbon emissions and pollutants and contribute hugely to climate change, respiratory problems, and pollution.

Not only does fossil fuel extraction and power generation harm the planet, but these resources are dwindling fast and cannot be renewed. We need green energy, and solar energy is part of that solution.

Recommended Reading: What Does The Average Solar System Cost

Are Solar Panels Worth It

This is what I’ve been asked by many friends and family. Many of them simply refer to the lack of efficiency on cloudy days or that the payback period would be too long because they use most of their electricity at night.

But most of those arguments are based on old solar technology standards.

Here’s why I think a solar energy system is worth it.

Environmental Impact Of Solar Panel Manufacturing

How are solar panels made and what are the environmental impacts of that process?

Solar panels have few components: a frame, cells, backsheet, protective film, conductors and a tempered glass cover. The frame is aluminum, the cells are silicon, the conductors are copper and the backsheet & film are typically a polymer or plastic-based material.

Multi-crystalline solar panels have an energy payback period of just 2 years.

Another favourable caveat to note is that value is based off an assumed solar panel efficiency of 14%. Today, solar panels are 40% to 50% more efficient.

With that in mind, it is reasonable to assume that solar panels have an approximate energy payback period of 1 to 2 years.

If you were offered an investment with a 2-year payback period, would you take it?

Read Also: Does Solar Still Work When Power Goes Out

How To Work Out The Power Consumption Of Your Ac

Determining the power consumption of your air conditioner, and therefore how many solar panels youll need to run it, is a little more complicated than some other types of appliances.

AC units do not draw a constant current unlike most appliances and devices because they run on compressors with motors that allow them to cycle on and off to maintain a temperature, the power they draw can go up and down.

Therefore, to work out the power consumption of your AC system, you need to average out the current.

How to average out the current of your AC system

You can do this with a Kill a Watt meter, a device that monitors the electrical usage of appliances.

Connect the Kill a Watt meter to your air conditioner for at least 24 hours and measure the power it draws over time. The meter measures in various units, including kilowatt-hours, AC volts, AC amps, and volt-amps.

To measure the power consumption of your air conditioner, you need to pay attention to the kilowatt-hours and cumulative time hours and minutes. You can toggle between these readings on a Kill a Watt meter with the pink button on the right-hand side, and theyre displayed on the LCD screen check the devices manual for more instructions.

At the end of the 24 hours, take the kilowatt-hours and divide this by the cumulative hours and minutes as shown on the meter. This will show you the average kilowatt-hours used by your air conditioner.

Environmental Impacts Of Green Power And Rooftop Solar

Renewable Energy: Solar Panels Overview

Both rooftop solar projects and utility green power plans involve energy from renewable sources that have very low environmental impacts. Solar is one of the technologies under the green power umbrella, so both options are a strong choice to reduce your impact on the environment.

Specifically, choosing green power or rooftop solar to provide your home electricity drastically reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed to your personal energy use. Conventional fuel sources release pollutants including greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned, while renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydro power only cause pollution during the production of the equipment.

One small difference in environmental impact between green power and rooftop solar comes in the form of land use. Green power programs rely on the mass production of clean energy, which requires land to be developed. For example, a utility may install several acres worth of solar panels, or build large wind turbines throughout an undeveloped landscape. In contrast, an under-recognized benefit of rooftop solar is that you are repurposing an already developed surface. Adding solar panels to your roof doesnt alter any untouched landscape rather, it makes further use of an already functional space.

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It Can Make Use Of The Underutilized Land

With the increasing needs for solar power nowadays, the use of this renewable power resource can become more accessible for every homeowner. Apart from providing suitable power for your home, solar energy can also make use of the underutilized land and generate substantial value for the area.

There are vast land areas from various countries across the globe that are far away from big capitals or cities. Most of these areas might not be used for anything at all. However, solar energy can make use of these underutilized land more conveniently by installing photovoltaic solar panels on the area.

Also referred to as a photovoltaic power station, solar farms are a vast, decentralized solar array that supplies energy to the power grid. The primary idea of having solar farms is providing suitable electricity for every homeowner even without installing these solar panels on their roof.

How Much Does A Solar Power System Cost

To give you a rough idea of how much it costs to go solar in Australia, a conventional 6kW solar PV system may be priced between $4,000 and $6,000, whilst a 10kW system could cost you around $7,500 to $10,500.

The total cost of your solar power system depends not only on its size and capacity but also on other factors. These include its model and brand, the price of the micro-inverter or optimiser system you choose and the difficulty of the installation process.

All CEC-accredited solar installers are required to use products that meet Australian Standards. This is why we only use:

  • AS 4509 stand-alone power systems
  • AS 4086 secondary batteries for SPS
  • AS/NZS 3000 electrical wiring rules
  • AS 1768 lightning protection
  • AS/NZS 1170.2 wind loads
  • AS/NZS 5033 installation of photovoltaic arrays

As is required of any solar company in Queensland, we follow all the guidelines set by the CEC to ensure the safety of our systems. Moreover, we only use approved products, such as solar PV modules and grid-connect inverters, of higher-than-standard quality to prolong the life of your solar power system.

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