The Environmental Cost Of Creating Turbines And Panels
When youre gauging the efficiency of an energy source, one of the biggest factors is whats required to capture the energy. If the amount of energy thats generated is close to the same amount needed to source the energy, then it isnt very efficient.
Building solar panels and wind turbines requires a fair amount of energy that comes from fossil fuels. Some have pointed out that this makes renewables less green than initially thought. The Science Explorer estimated that wind turbines have a carbon footprint of 7-56 grams of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour generated and solar panels have a carbon footprint of 9-180 grams of CO2 for each kilowatt-hour.
What Is The Difference Between P
One layer in a p-n junction contains an element with more electrons than silicon needs for correct bonding, often phosphorus. This layer is called the N-type layer because of the added electrons carrying a negative charge.
The other layer in a p-n junction was doped with an element, usually boron, containing fewer electrons than silicon needs for proper bonding. This electron deficit gives the layer a positive charge, and is called the P-type layer.
All solar cells contain at least one p-n junction. However, a big difference between them is that some PV cells begin with a thick boron-doped layer of silicon as the base with a thin layer of phosphorus-doped silicon next to it. This type of solar cell is called P-type.
Other solar cells begin with a base of a thick layer of phosphorus-doped silicon and a thin layer of boron-doped silicon next to it. This solar cell is called N-type.
N-type solar cells are more efficient than P-type. In fact, all of the three most efficient panels on the market today, as noted in the table above, are made with N-type solar cells.
First-generation solar cells contain a single p-n junction. These are the ones commercially available today. Companies are currently investigating multi-junction technologies.
What Are Solar Panels And Why Theyre Growing Globally
Solar panels, also known as which means light-electricity are devices that convert sunlight into electricity. A solar panel is a collection of small silicon-based solar cells which have conductive properties which set electrons into motion and convert sunlight into electricity.
Over the past 20 years, the costs associated with solar cells have been steadily decreasing. In fact, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency , solar PV module prices have fallen by around 80% since the end of 2009. Price shortfalls and economic gains, together with the urgency to design more ecological and resilient societies led to the growth of renewables, and solar energy, in particular, across electricity grids worldwide.
However, and despite their benefits which make them a far more ecological option than fossil-fuels solar energy is not perfect, as weve highlighted in our piece: Is Solar Energy Really Green And Sustainable? Put simply, manufacturing photovoltaic panels can consume a lot of energy and requires finite Earth minerals that have harsh extraction impacts, apart from the many questions still in the air regarding their recycling.
However, there is also another topic we feel should be analyzed in greater detail: the lack of efficiency of solar panels. How efficient are solar panels?
You May Like: How Do I Register My Sole Proprietorship
The Efficiency Of Solar Panels Under Extreme Conditions
No single customer wants to end up with solar panels that aren’t technically sound. There are major advantages of solar energy, but it’s important to have the right type of solar panel installed in your home. In order to guarantee the quality of a solar panel, it is extensively tested under extreme conditions.
Factors That Impact Solar Panel Efficiency
Things like dust, dirt, snow, debris, and shading will all impact how efficiently your panels operate, but that isnt really what we mean when we talk about the efficiency of a solar panel.
When talking about efficiency ratings, it almost entirely relates to the technology used to make the panel. Nowadays, almost all residential solar panels are made of monocrystalline solar cells because they are more efficient than other solar cell types. But there are different types of monocrystalline solar cells that are even more efficient than the traditional ones.
For example, some manufacturers use PERC or HIT solar cells that boost solar panel efficiency by absorbing more light than traditional solar cells. Other solar panels use half-cut cell technology to increase efficiency by literally cutting solar cells in half to reduce resistance as electrons move through the cells.
Its not just about the solar cell though, efficiency can be increased other ways, too. In fact, some companies have started moving towards multi-busbar technology. All this means is they use multiple, ultra-thin wires to move electricity through the cells. Because the wires are so thin, there is less shading on each cell, allowing them to collect more sunlight.
Even choosing a white backsheet for panels can make them more efficient because it keeps the solar cells cooler.
Also Check: What Is A Solar Skylight
Does Ice Affect Solar Panels
Interestingly, ice does not always affect solar panel efficiency in the same way that snow does. This is because ice can freeze in an almost transparent state.
- The thinner the ice layers over the surface of your solar panels are, the less they will interfere with your panels capacity to absorb photon rays.
- Thick ice can severely reduce solar panel efficiency and can even prevent them from functioning in some cases.
This is why it is important to perform regular maintenance via the use of specialized solutions to stop any severe build-up from occurring if you live in an area that is prone to severe cold spells.
Compare All Of Your Options Before Making A Decision
Whatever renewable energy option youre considering, its always a good idea to before making a final decision. Solar can save you thousands on your electricity bills. Want to see for yourself? Check out EnergySages Solar Calculator to get an instant estimate of how much solar could save you. Once ready, compare quotes from solar installers on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace to find the best deal. Solar shoppers in the Marketplace generally save up to 25 percent off the costs of installing a solar panel system simply by shopping around first. Theres no better way to go solar.
This post originally appeared on Mother Earth News.
Read Also: What Size Solar System For My House
The Future Of Solar Cells
To outpace current solar cells, a new design would need to be able to capture more light, transform light energy to electricity more efficiently, and/or be less expensive to build than current designs. Energy producers and consumers are more likely to adopt solar power if the energy it produces is equally or less expensive than other, often non-renewable, forms of electricity, so any improvement to current solar cell designs must bring down overall costs to become widely used.
The first option, adding hardware that allows the solar cells to capture more light, does not actually require that we abandon current solar cell designs. Electronics can be installed with the solar cell that let the cell track the sun as it moves through the daytime sky. If the solar cell is always pointing at the sun, it will be hit by many more photons than if it was only pointing towards the sun around midday. Currently, designing electronics that can track the position of the sun accurately and consistently for several decades at a reasonable cost is an ongoing challenge, but innovation on this front continues. An alternative to making the solar cell itself move is to use mirrors to focus light on a smaller, and therefore cheaper solar cell.
Emily Kerr, Graduate Student in Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
Abagail Burrus is a third-year Organismic and Evolutionary Biology PhD student who studies elaiophore development.
Efficiencys Importance In Home Solar Solutions
Efficiency alone isnt always the most important factor to consider when choosing the right panels for your project. You may not need the most efficient solar panels if you have enough roof space for less efficient, but more cost effective panels.
The direction your roof is facing, the slant, style, and area of your roof all weigh in on which panels might work best for you.
You May Like: How To Choose Solar Panels For Home
How Is Solar Panel Efficiency Calculated
When youre shopping for solar panels, the efficiency rating will be listed on the panels datasheet. But how exactly is that efficiency rating calculated?
All solar panels are tested at an operating temperature of 25°C with solar irradiance of 1,000 watts per square meter. These are called Standard Test Conditions, or STC for short.
So, to find the efficiency of a panel under STC, divide the power rating by the area of the panel times the irradiance, times 100.
But the solar panels on your roof wont be operating under STC. In the real world, the irradiance level and temperature will vary and change your panels efficiency.
Do Solar Panels Work During Rain Can I Rely Purely On Rainfall To Clean Them
Rainfall will not be enough to keep your solar panels optimally clean and capable of producing energy in line with their maximum efficiency standards.
- Rainwater does not clean solar panels thoroughly.
- Every month that your panels are cleaned purely by rainwater alone, they will lose roughly 1% in overall efficiency.
- Solar panels are still capable of producing energy during periods of rainfall, but the amount of energy can be reduced by storm clouds.
The only way to guarantee that your solar panel surface remains as absorbent of photons as possible is to clean it by hand using specialist tools and solutions.
Don’t Miss: How Much Does It Cost For A Solar Panel System
Are The Most Efficient Solar Panels Worth The Higher Price
If you have a limited amount of space on your rooftop, premium efficiency panels may be the best solar panels for your home. This is because they will allow you to install more solar generation capacity than you may otherwise be able to install on your roof.
However, in terms of cost – there no longer seems to be a strong argument to pay a price premium for SunPower, LG or Panasonic solar panels given that the other Tier 1 solar panels are now almost as efficient and these manufacturers are also highly bankable companies.
The wider availability of cheap high efficiency Tier 1 solar panels makes it more important than ever to get quotes from multiple solar installers. By getting more than one solar quote, you can compare various manufactures at different price points to make sure youre getting the best solar system for your home – without breaking the bank. You can also use our solar panel calculator to get a personalized estimate of how much a solar installation would cost for your specific home, as well as see your projected savings over the lifespan of the solar panels.
Environmental Factors Affecting Solar Cell Efficiency
Shading from nearby buildings and trees are one of the biggest factors affecting solar panel efficiency. If you are dealing with shade from a nearby building, you may have the option of installing a solar canopy in order to reposition the panels to receive more direct sunlight.
Trees can oftentimes be trimmed or even removed in order to increase the irradiance of a solar array. While removing a tree may seem counterintuitive to the positive environmental impact of installing solar, just remember that the CO2 offset your solar system will achieve will far exceed the carbon absorbing capability of that one tree!
It is important when going Solar to ensure that whoever is designing your system is utilizing adequate software or other methods in order to accurately model and measure shading. Aurora, for example, is a premium modeling software that accurately takes into account all relevant environmental factors when designing a system.
Significant amounts of dirt and dust can also reduce efficiency. For the most part, solar panels are self-cleaning. A rain shower can reset your panel efficiency in just a few minutes. If you live in a particularly arid region and heavy dust-storms are a problem, you might want to clean the panels off yourself. Hereshow to know if your panels need cleaningand how to go about it.
Also Check: Is It Better To Buy Or Lease Solar Equipment
Do I Need To Turn Off Solar Panels To Clean Them
In order to safely and effectively clean your solar panels, you will definitely need to take safety measures.
- Completely turn them off.
- Enlist the help of someone with experience in this area if you are unsure about how to do this.
You may also be able to find out all of the information you require about powering your system down by watching internet tutorials. Your safety will be at risk if you try to clean the system while it is still switched on.
With A Gas Auxiliary Tank System:
Daily Water Heating Energy
Fuels such as natural gas are often sold in units of therms. One therm equals 100,000 British thermal units . Look through your utility bills and see how much fuel you use in summer months, when gas is not used for space heating. If you have gas for cooking and clothes dryer, you might want to take about 60% of that summer total as the energy used to heat water.
A conventional water heater’s energy efficiency is the Uniform Energy Factor which is the amount of hot water produced per unit of fuel consumed in a standard test. The higher the UEF value is, the more efficient the water heater. UEF is determined by the Department of Energys test method outlined in 10 CFR Part 430, Subpart B, Appendix E. Household gas water heaters are required to have a UEF of at least 0.64. For electric heaters the UEF is taken to be 1.0 since all the electricity goes into the water.
Daily Water Heating Energy = *EF*0.6/
The fuel used is related to the amount of water used and the temperature. The definition of Btu is energy required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit .
Daily Water Heating Energy= ***.
Often it is advisable to size a solar system based on such benchmark loads or based on the number of bedrooms in a house instead of current consumption, which depends on the changing number and behavior of occupants of a house.
Annual Cost of Convention Natural Gas Heating
You May Like: Are Renogy Solar Panels Any Good
The Essential Guide To Solar Panel Efficiency
Theres no magic formula for building the most efficient home solar system, but there are ways to maximize it. Start with the panels themselves.
Green Coast is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you if you buy through a link on this page. Learn more.
Why should you care about solar panel efficiency if sunlight is free? The short answer to this question comes down to dollars and space.
The efficiency of your solar panels is important in two scenarios:
Here youll find the basics on solar panel efficiency and a list of the most efficient solar panels on the market today.
Looking ahead in the solar world, new materials called perovskites hold great promise in making solar modules even more efficient at capturing sunlight and converting it into usable electricity.
Looking For Commercial Solar Companies Near You In Massachusetts
If you want to get the most out of your investment in solar energy in Massachusetts, partnering with a trustworthy installer is just as important as choosing high-efficiency solar panels. Boston Solar is the most experienced local solar company and will install your commercial solar panels right the first time, ensuring a smooth transition to solar power and decades of optimal performance. And, because were a local company, you can rest easy knowing that well always be around to help should you have questions about your panels in the days, months, or years following installation.
To learn more about commercial solar panel installation in Massachusetts and the commercial solar financing options that may be available to you, reach out to Boston Solar today!
You May Like: How To Read A Smart Meter With Solar Power
Solar Panel Efficiency: What Is It
Solar panels can lower utility bills and produce clean, environmentally friendly energy. But what makes them efficient? The efficiency of photovoltaic solar panels is related to the quality of their photovoltaic cells. The conversion efficiency of a PV cell is the percentage of solar energy shining on a solar panel that is converted into usable electricity. The more efficient a solar panel is, the more energy output it will have per amount of light hitting the cell, which will in turn take up less surface area to meet your energy requirements.
What factors affect solar panel efficiency?
The efficiency of the PV cells that make up a solar panel is based on energy from sunlight that is converted into electricity through the process of photovoltaics. An efficient solar panel is one that generates more electricity by occupying less space. A cells efficiency can be increased by minimizing the amount of light reflected away from the cells surface. Other factors that affect the average efficiency of solar panels include the intensity of the sun, the amount of cloud cover and heat build-up, which affects the conductivity of the semiconductors in the PV cells.
Do solar panels lose efficiency over time?
Are solar panels efficient in winter?