What Are Solar Panels Made Of
The traditional process of manufacturing a solar panel begins with quartz, a very common mineral that can be found right in your home ! Comprised of oxygen and silicon atoms, researchers discovered that this mineral can be converted into pure silicon for use as a semiconductor in solar panels to generate electricity.
Solar manufacturers historically mined quartz to supply the silicon for their solar panels. However, the mining of quartz crystal exposes miners to silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling tiny bits of silica from the ore.2 As a result, the solar industry is gradually moving away from quartz mining and toward quartz-rich sand.
Both quartz-rich sand and mined quartz can be refined into the same metallurgical-grade silicon for solar panels. At Chariot Energy, our solar panels are made exclusively from quartz-rich sand. In fact, one of our mottos is From sand to solar! This process ensures our solar panels never put people at risk of silicosis from mining.
The Challenges of Manufacturing Solar Panels
Theres an additional challenge: after polysilicon is purified, its formed into bricks then sliced into thin wafers, which comprise the panels in solar panels. Hydrofluoric acid are used to clean and texturize the panels to maximize light intake. While cleaning and maximizing the surface area is completely safe, like any chemical improperly disposed of, hydrofluoric acid can have a negative environmental impact.
Alternative Processes Currently in Development
Solar Panel Handling Guidelines
Solar panels can be highly awkward and heavy to lift. As the workers load and install panels from trucks to the site, injuries can occur. Straining, spraining, back injuries, and muscle pull are some of the issues that can arise. Any trauma that continues to accumulate can be bad for the spine.
Did you know that as soon as the panels gain access to sunlight, they can heat up, causing burns if they are not well handled? For this reason, solar energy safety measures for handling panels include:
- Have two people lift the solar panels. Such an action prevents any injuries or damages.
- Avoid climbing ladders while carrying the solar panels. To get the panels to the roof, cranes, hoists, or winch systems that are ladder-based can be good options. These measures prevent workers from getting injuries.
- One crucial safety precaution is covering the solar panels once they are unboxed with opaque paper to prevent heat from building up. This checklist keeps you as well as your workers safe from burns.
- Gloves are a requirement for workers handling the panels. Wearing hats and keeping arms and legs covered while working should be mandatory. Plenty of sunscreens is also recommended.
Disadvantages Of Solar Power
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Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Power
Theres a lot to solar energy here are a few quick answers to common questions about what solar energy is:
How does solar energy work?
Solar power generation starts when solar panels absorb photons, or particles of light, with photovoltaic cells, generating this direct current energy and then converting it to usable alternating current energy with the help of inverter technology. AC energy then flows through the homes electrical panel and is distributed accordingly.
What can solar power be used for?
Solar power is used in two main ways: generating electricity or generating thermal energy . For most homeowners, solar panels that convert solar energy to electricity is the best use of solar energy you can save on your electric bills with a home solar installation.
How long do solar panels last?
Solar panels usually last for 25 to 30 years before they start to see steeper drops in performance than is useful for many homes. For those almost three decades, however, youll be generating free solar electricity from the sun.
Before The Weather Event
When you know a storm or flood is coming, its a good idea to shut down your solar power system.
You should always follow your installers shutdown procedures. These can usually be found at the inverter and/or on the main switchboard.
Most shut down procedures will ask you to:
- turn off the inverter AC mains isolator
- turn off the photovoltaic array isolator .
WARNING: If theres a risk that flood water will reach inverters and cables, ask a licensed electrical contractor or a Clean Energy Council accredited installer to fully shut down your PV array.
Contact your solar systems manufacturer or installer if you have questions about your solar systems shutdown procedure.
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Control Measures: Ac And Dc Side Mitigation
Arc flash mitigation in PV systems is divided by DC and AC . DC-side mitigation for large solar arrays , is especially important at the combiner box where multiple strings of solar panels are combined in parallel to increase the current. To reduce the potential for arc flash, large-scale systems can use multiple string inverters that themselves can connect multiple strings in parallel, instead of using one or two large central inverters that require combiner boxes. AC-side mitigation includes arc resistant switchgear, which redirects arc flash energy through the top of the enclosure, away from personnel and equipment.
Basic PPE for electricians and solar PV techniciansincludes the Fluke 87-V Industrial Multimeter
Modern Renewables And Nuclear Energy Are Not Only Safer But Also Cleaner Than Fossil Fuels
So far weve only considered the short-term health impacts of these energy sources. But we need to also take into account their longer-term impact on climate change.
There is actually very good news: the safest sources for us today are the same sources that have the smallest impact on the climate. Sometimes the solutions to the large global issues we face come with trade-offs, but not here. Whether you are concerned about people dying now or the future of the planet, you want the same sources of energy.
The visualization here shows this. On the left I have plotted the death rates per unit energy data we looked at previously and on the right you see their greenhouse gas emissions per energy unit. This measure of greenhouse gas emissions considers the total carbon footprint over the full lifecycle figures for renewable technologies, for example, take into consideration the footprint of the raw materials, transport and their construction. I have adopted these figures as reported in the IPCCs 5th Assessment Report, and more recent life-cycle figures by Pehl et al. , published in Nature.16,17,18
Nuclear, wind, hydropower and solar energy fall to the bottom of the chart on both metrics. They are all much safer in terms of accidents and air pollution and they are low-carbon options.
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Are Solar Panels Safe For Your Health
According to recent researches, one hour of solar energy given by the sun is enough to meet the Earths energy requirements for as long as one year. Solar panels need to be installed in order to convert solar energy into electricity, and these are the shining beacons that are expected to lead the world out of an energy crisis. But did you know that solar panels produce harmful toxic waste just like computers, TVs and cell phones? So, here at OneHowTo.com, lets discuss about are solar panels safe for your health or not.
Pollution Like Heavy Smog Can Reduce Energy Production From Solar Panels
Hence, if you live in areas with high levels of pollution, you might want to ask an expert if solar power is the right way to go for ensuring your energy supply.
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Is That Enough To Power My House
It is 100% possible to power an entire house, even if your solar panels only convert 15% to 20% of all the sunlight that hits them into energy.
But there are some things you should consider. When you decide to invest in solar panels, you need to know your exact goals. Are you looking to just subsidize your current energy usage, or do you want to be 100% solar powered?
Youll need to know how much energy you already use. You can usually find this number as a whole on your energy bill from your power company. Thatll give you a good idea of where to start.
But many people decide that if they want to be completely solar-powered they should cut down on their energy usage in the first place, and thats a good idea.
Support Of Your Local Community With A Community Solar Farm
If you own a large area of land, you could also consider opening your own solar farm from which you could supply many households with electricity from solar energy and therefore make an even bigger positive environmental impact.
However, building a whole solar farm can be quite costly and you should consider having plenty of consultation with experienced people in this field in order to protect yourself against enormous costs and risks.
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Solar Power Hazards And Safety
The solar photovoltaic industry has grown rapidly in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down. As more employees install more PV systems in the coming years, they must take care to remain safe on the job.
This infographic breaks down the hazards associated with PV installation and offers tips to work safely and improve efficiency.
Some Solar Systems Are Safer Than Others
Despite the widespread availability of safe solar technology, most solar systems sold in Australia use DC voltages that can pose a serious fire risk.
Unfortunately, Australia has not been as quick to adopt safe solar regulations as our international counterparts. For example, in the United States, safety standards preventing the installation of conventional DC solar systems have been in place since as early as 2014.
The lag in regulatory oversight means that it is up to you to do your solar system research and select a solar installer with a reputation for quality and safe solar.
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Putting Death Rates From Different Energy Sources In Perspective
Looking at deaths per terawatt-hour can seem a bit abstract. So lets try to put it in perspective.
Lets consider how many deaths each source would cause for an average town of 187,090 people in Europe, which as Ive said before consume one terawatt-hour of electricity per year. Lets call this town Euroville.
If Euroville was completely powered by coal wed expect 25 people to die prematurely every year as a result. Most of these people would die from air pollution. This is how a coal-powered Euroville would compare with towns powered by other energy sources:
- Coal: 25 people would die prematurely every year
- Oil: 18 people would die prematurely every year
- Gas: 3 people would die prematurely every year
- Nuclear: In an average year nobody would die. A death rate of 0.07 deaths per terawatt-hour means it would take 14 years before a single person would die. As we will explore later, this might even be an overestimate.
- Wind: In an average year nobody would die it will take 29 years before someone died
- Hydropower: In an average year nobody would die it will take 42 years before someone died
- Solar: In an average year nobody would die only every 53 years would someone die.
The Sun Will Continue To Shine
Solar panels use energy from the sun to generate free, renewable energy for solar system owners.
With a solar investment, thats what youre dependent on the sun shining. Lets compare that to buying stocks. With an investment in a company, youre dependent on a lot of things the companys leadership, its employees, the ever-changing tastes and expectations of consumers.
The sun, however, is the most abundant source of energy on Earth. Each hour, it radiates enough energy to fulfill Earths power needs for an entire year.
While its true that not all the energy from the sun will find its way to your solar panels, you dont need to live in California or Florida to get enough sunshine to back up your solar investment.
Solar panels can still produce electricity on days when its cloudy, and can still be profitable investments for many people in states not known for their sunshine, like Ohio and snowy New York.
Solar energy is less risky than many other investments because its dependent on the sun, not people. If the Earth stops turning or the sun stops shining, well all have a much bigger problem on our hands than our investments.
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Architecture And Urban Planning
Sunlight has influenced building design since the beginning of architectural history. Advanced solar architecture and urban planning methods were first employed by the Greeks and Chinese, who oriented their buildings toward the south to provide light and warmth.
The common features of passive solar architecture are orientation relative to the Sun, compact proportion , selective shading and thermal mass. When these features are tailored to the local climate and environment, they can produce well-lit spaces that stay in a comfortable temperature range. Socrates‘ Megaron House is a classic example of passive solar design. The most recent approaches to solar design use computer modeling tying together solar lighting, heating and ventilation systems in an integrated solar design package.Active solar equipment such as pumps, fans, and switchable windows can complement passive design and improve system performance.
Solar Heating Systems Have Chemical And Electrical Components
A solar water heating system uses the solar energy to warm up your bath water. Some heating systems may be efficient to heat up your entire house. These systems have solar collectors which process the solar energy for generating heat. These contain electrical and chemical components which some people may be sensitive to. Exposure to such components may be harmful for sensitive people, particularly if they are exposed to them for long periods of time.
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Temperature But Not Like Youd Expect
If you live in a cold, sunny area, youre in luck! This is the perfect environment to get the most out of your solar panels. Solar panels are more efficient in colder climates than they are in warmer ones.
On top of that, snow acts as a mirror, and it can reflect sunlight off the ground back onto your solar panels, so they get more sunlight than they do without snow.
How Reliable Are Solar Panels
Solar panels, in general, are very reliable. According to a study, only .05% of PV modules experience failure per year during their lifetime.
Where does that number come from? In 2017, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory monitored 54,500 solar panels over 15 years. They found that only 5 panels of 10,000 failed each year. Thats 1 in every 2,000 solar panels.
And that number represents a wide variety of solar panels in a variety of environments. Depending on where you live and what you install, that number could be much less. The study showed signs of higher failure rates in very hot and humid areas as opposed to more temperate and dry areas. If you live in the northeast or other cooler areas of the country, that rate could be even less.
Another thing to consider is the quality of the solar panels themselves. If you opt for solar panels made from high quality, well-trusted producers, its likely that that failure of panels will occur less often.
And even if youre one of the very unlucky solar owners who does have a solar panel that fails, you may be covered with the systems warranty.
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Prevents Destruction Of Habitats
Pristine forests are destroyed for mining raw materials like fossil or nuclear fuels. Trees constantly remove and use carbon dioxide from the air to make their food, and this carbon is then stored in them. When forests are cut for mining raw materials for conventional energy, this major carbon sink disappears and also increases climate change. “Eight out of ten animals on land” live in forests, according to WWF, and a loss of habitats diminishes their populations. Switching to solar power is important to keep these habitats intact for the animals who live there as well as continue to keep the air clean.
Solar Is Clean And Safe
Solar is a safe alternative which can replace current fossil fuels like coal and gas for generation of electricity that produce air, water, and land pollution. World Wide Fund For Nature, also known as the World Wildlife Fund , notes that electricity generation from fossil fuels causes pollution of air leading to acid rain, damaged forest areas, and affected agricultural production leading to loss of billions of dollars worldwide. Fracking in the U.S. uses thousands of liters of water mixed with chemicals for extraction contaminating the water used, along with nearby water bodies, and also causes earthquakes. Nuclear power pollutes water and land and has caused environmental catastrophes. Use of solar energy will eliminate these unsafe, unclean consequences from using conventional fossil fuels.