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SOLAR ENERGY

Solar energy is a kind of energy that can be obtained from sunlight. It can also be obtained from heat. With the help of technology, one can utilize this abundant resource to produce energy. The technology of manufacturing solar energy is called green technology. Solar energy is utilized as the source of heat as well as electricity as this is most important ever to a number of people who are well known.

Solar energy can be classified into two categories:
• Active solar
• Passive solar

How is sunlight converted into solar energy?

A Photovoltaic method is a way to convert the sunlight into solar energy. This process is done by using a semiconductor material. Thermal technologies are yet another kind of method to obtain solar energy. These thermal technologies give two kinds of energy storing methods.
• The first method is the solar concentration method. It is usually used to drive thermal turbines.
• The other one is used in the air conditioning and solar water heating.

Once the sunlight is converted into solar energy, it can be utilized in the activities of the daily routine.
There are small particles present in the sunlight called photons. Absorption of photons takes place in the solar cells through the photovoltaic technology. This results in the conversion of current which is later converted into AC from DC.

How much of the world’s energy is solar?

To calculate the exact use of the world’s solar energy is nearly impossible because the ration of usage of solar energy is increasing rapidly all over the world. Over the past five years, the usage of solar energy has increased four times globally. In 2017, more than 97 GW was produced at the start of the year which was increased to 400GW by the end of the year. 400 GW is a 32% increase in energy when compared to 2016. In the past five years, the production of energy has quadrupled.

A major increase in the usage and production of solar energy was observed in China and the United States. In China, 53 GW and in US 51 GW were recorded respectively. Whereas, Japan falls in the third place with the production of 49 GW and Germany stood fourth in manufacturing 42 GW of solar energy. However, in 2018, Germany has taken the lead in using and producing the solar energy.

How can we generate solar energy at home?

Solar energy is indeed the cleanest and reliable form of energy that can also be obtained at home. The most common way of obtaining solar energy at home is to buy PV panels. These panels convert the sunlight into electricity. These PV panels can also store the electricity for a long time. The stored electricity can also be used at night which would result in some extra savings.

These PV panels can be installed on the rooftops of the house. The ideal place of installing the panels on the roof is the place where there would be no shade on the panels especially between 9:00 am to 3:00 pm when it is the prime time of the sun to shine. Panel facing south would gather more protons whereas; other orientations can also provide sufficient energy. There are many factors that cause the decrease in the production of power. If one is surrounded by tall buildings, trees or anything that causes shade, the production would be affected. The production of power would be decreased to half even if one of the 36 cells is covered.

In some cases, when there is no place for the PV panels to be installed on the rooftops, pivoting panels are designed. These pivoting panels stand on the central axis. These panels follow the sun wherever it goes allowing the maximum production of power.

The use of inverters is another method to obtain energy. The inverters are usually placed outside the house near the main electrical unit. One drawback of the inverter is that it makes a little noise while it is working. So, one must consider a proper place for the inverter if it is to be installed in the home. The purpose of the inverter is to convert the direct current into alternating current.

Which country uses most solar energy?

Many of the world’s advancing countries use solar energy because of its numerous advantages. Names of some of the countries that use solar energy the most are given below:
• Germany
• China
• United States of America
• Japan
• Spain
• Czech Republic
• Italy

1. Germany is the leading country when it comes to the usage of solar energy. Germany has already planned to use solar energy only by 2050. Moreover, Germany is also the top buyer of the PV solar panels.
2. China is also one of the countries that produce the major part of its energy from the sunlight.
3. America has also shown interest in the solar energy. Almost 60% of the total installation of PV panels is in California.
4. Japan invested $9 billion in 2009 to encourage the use of solar panels.
5. Spain has not converted its mode of energy to solar energy as much as Germany has but still is making effort to use solar energy more and more for several years.
6. Italy is also making its progress towards the use of solar energy. Almost 9% of the energy used in Italy is solar.

Conclusion
The countries that are shifting to the solar energy are saving themselves for the future as this renewable resource is never going to run out. Moreover, the maintenance of these panels requires a lot of manpower and equipment which will lead to the generation of more jobs. This will be of great importance as the economy of the country will boost up. It will not only help the country to do well with electricity but it is good for the global warming as well.

If solar-powered vehicles are used, the release of toxic gases in the environment will be diminished leaving the fresh air to breathe. This fresh air will make the cities greener, reducing the common health problems among the people. So the solar panels not only produce power but have other countless advantages as well.

Solar Energy Projections

Are you looking tor a dependable text that will certainly make you knowledgeable about solar energy projections? If yes, the content in this write- up is undoubtedly all you need. Solar power refers to a renewable source of energy, which is free, sustainable as well as totally inexhaustible. It is a non- polluting energy source and doesn’t release any type of greenhouse gas when being utilized to produce electricity.
It is always appropriate you consider using solar power as it is associated with many benefits including; being free as well as environmental friendly.

Is Solar Power the Best Renewable Source? 

Solar energy is considered worldwide as the best renewable source and is among the few renewable energy sources that cannot be exhausted via use. It is considered the best natural energy source as it associated with numerous uses including; heating water and generating electricity to space heating and solar cooking.

This renewable energy source is also commonly used as an effective drying agent in both industrial and domestic purposes. It is efficient and have a low maintenance cost.

What is the Fastest Growing Renewable Energy?

Based on research conducted recently, slow climate change is making wind power to be considered the fastest renewable energy in the world and is likely to displace coal years to come. Solar photovoltaic system was previously i.e. two years ago the fastest renewable energy source. It expected that solar energy will likely surpass other renewable energy sources soon and turn out to be the fastest growing source of energy.

By wind being considered the fastest, its generating capacity rose to approximately 4,900 megawatts from 3,700 megawatts. This represents a 32 percent increment.

Should Solar Power be Considered the Main Energy Source?

It is absolutely right that solar power should be named the best source of renewable energy. The various merits associated with this energy source is what makes most people around the world consider it as the best. Here are a few of the various merits associated with solar energy:

#1: It is Environmental Friendly:

Solar energy is a clean, green energy source that doesn’t pollute the environment. It only requires a clean water source for it to function effectively and does not release any type of green house gas.

#2: Improving Grid Security:

Once most people in a particular area rely on solar power as an energy source, they will definitely experience less brownouts or blackouts. This will in turn offer them a greater grid security in terms of human or natural- caused disasters.

#3: It is a Free Energy Source:

Energy from the sun is free and no person can ever monopolize it. Simply install a solar energy system and start benefiting from this best renewable source of energy.

What is the Fastest Growing Energy Source in Australia?

Wind is recently the top energy source being utilized in Australia. However, the many pros associated with solar energy are making it to be considered the fastest growing energy source in Australia. Solar energy is recently being used by Australians for industrial and home use purposes.

Bottom Line 

There are many merits you’ll experience by utilizing solar as an energy source. Utilize it soon so that you can reap from what it offers.

Energy Saving Outdoor Blinds

When considering window treatments or covers, they are not just for decoration, but also a way for you to achieve energy savings in your home. Some of the specialized treatments for windows are able to significantly prevent heat loss and decrease heat. However, it is important to know that window treatments in regards to preventing air leakage or filtration are not effective. Caulk or weather strips around your windows is seen as an efficient method to reduce air leakage.

Awnings

Using awnings over your windows can result in reducing heat gain by as much as 65% in the months of summer on south-facing windows and around 77% on west-facing windows. When choosing the option of awnings for your windows, you can choose from an awning shade that will cover each of your windows or a design that is custom-made to create shade for each side or a single side of your home.

Not so long ago, most of awnings were made out of metal or canvas that typically required a re-covering in about 5 to 7 years. However, today you can purchase awnings made out of synthetic fabrics such as acrylic or polyvinyl laminates. These materials have been treated in order to resist mildew, mold and fading. In addition, the fabrics are also resistant to moisture and water. When deciding on an awning, it is always advisable to choose fabrics that are opaque and tightly woven. Lighter colors are also a better choice as they are able to reflect sunlight more efficiently.

Awnings require adequate ventilation to reduce or stop hot air that becomes trapped around the windows. The right awnings will have openings across the tops or sides or eyelets to offer ventilation. You may even prefer the awnings that open from the sides or the top in order to vent out any hot air. In winter months you will want the awnings that are adjustable or retractable which are rolled up and away to provide a way for the sun to warm up your home. The current hardware such as the lateral arms provides a way to roll up your awnings easily when not in use.

Blinds

The vertical of slat-type blinds are types recognized as the most effective in regards to minimizing heat gain that occurs in summer when compared to the heat loss that occurs in winter.

Interior Blinds

The openings that occur between the slats on blinds means that controlling heat loss is difficult in regards to window blinds used inside the home. These slats however, are beneficial in summer months in association to how flexible they are. Unlike shades, slates are adjustable which means you are able to control light and ventilation. When completely closed and lowered on your windows which receive the most sunlight, these blinds reflects direct sunlight away and directs this light towards the ceiling. When your ceiling is lightly colored, the sunlight will be diffused with decreased heat or glare.

Exterior Blinds

The roller blinds that are used on the outside of windows are generally made out of wood, steel, aluminum or vinyl. These types of blinds will be installed above a window and feature side channels which are what will guide them for lowering or raising. When completely lowered the blind’s slats will meet-up which offer sufficient shade. When raised partially, the blinds provide some light and airflow to access the windows. The Sydney outdoor blinds price can vary depending on which mechanism you select and also which type of fabric you choose.

Draperies

Drapes have the ability to reduce heat loss or gain which will be dependent on a number or factors which includes the fabric type like closed or open weave and the color of the drapes. With the significant amount of variety, it can become confusing to generalize energy performance.

On hot days, draperies in the windows which receive the most sunlight need to be closed in order to reduce heat gain. Studies have suggested that the draperies of medium colors and white-plastic backings have the ability to reduce heat gains by around 33%. Draperies also maintain a cooler environment on hot days when compared to a variety of the types of window treatments, due to the pleats and folds which results in heat loss in association with convection processes.

When draperies are closed in colder weather, most conventional draperies can reduce heat loss from warmed rooms by about 10%. This is the reason why draperies should be closed when it gets dark and the windows that receive little or no sunlight during the day.

To minimize heat exchange or convection, draperies should be in close proximity to the actual windows. They should also be touching the window sill or floor. In order to maximize effectiveness cornices installed over draperies or positioned against ceilings offer the best benefits. To further increase their effectiveness you should seal draperies on each side and making sure that they overlap at the center. Velcro or magnetic tape can be used to attach the drapes to your walls at the sides or the bottom. Using these precautions can contribute to reducing heat loss by about 25%.

High Reflective Films

High-reflectivity films on windows help to block heat gain. However, the effectiveness of these reflective films is dependent on:

•Orientation of your windows

•The building orientation

•Climate

•Do the windows feature interior insulation

Silver, mirror-like films are in many cases a better option over the colored to transparent types. East and west facing windows benefit from films as they have an increased potential in regards to heat gain due to the amount of sunlight that these windows receive. South-facing windows will be able to moderately benefit, but the north-facing windows holds no benefits.

The high-reflective films will have some disadvantages that include:

•Loss of interior light and visible transmittance

•Visibility when looking out can be impaired

•Added care is needed when cleaning these windows

•Reflections
Reflective films can either be applied directly over existing windows or there are window manufacturers that manufacturer this reflective glazing or glass.

Energex charges for solar installation

Some of our solar customers may have recently received hefty bills from their electricity suppliers for the change-over installation of a new meter box.

These charges were previously shared by all South East Queensland customers but now they will be paid by the individual customer.

There are two main areas which will impact domestic customers:

  1. Metering Service Charge (MSC) from 1 July 2015
  2. Upfront Meter Installation Service Charge from 1 August 2015

If your system was installed after 1 August you will, unfortunately incur these fees. 

Reconfiguring your old meter to accomodate solar will cost $275.
Installing a new meter for solar will cost approximately $620.

Connecting solar power to the Energex network requires the cooperation of several parties and Energex plays two key roles.

  1. To provide you with permission to connect to the network.
  2. To alter the metering at your premises, to allow any generation to be accounted for in your quarterly electricity bill.

The process for connections up to 30kW

Step 1: Superior Solar Solutions will submit a Network Connection Application to Energex on your behalf.
Step 2: This application is assessed by Energex.
Step 3: Connection offer is made.
Step 4: Superior Solar Solutions commences the installation and the installers will show you how to turn on your system once the meter has been changed.
Step 5: Electricity retailer work request to perform the metering change.
Step 6: Metering change is completed by Energex.
Step 7: Hooray! You can now turn on your solar power.

The Tesla Powerwall, just one of many solar storage solutions

The Tesla company is a brilliant example of design innovation and marketing coming together to produce a high quality product for a very specific market. There is no doubt, it’s a beautiful looking product but it isn’t the only solar storage solution on the market.

The Tesla Powerwall is a battery only which means you still need to connect an inverter, a charge controller and all the software and communication tools. There are other options available that have all of these components in one complete system. It pays to do your homework and ensure you are comparing apples with apples.

Size and weight should also be taken into consideration when choosing a storage system. The Powerwall is 100kg so you need to ensure your garage wall is reinforced to ensure the safety of the unit. Other systems like the SolaXbox weighs 200kg with six batteries and stands upright, looking similar to a sleek, modern fridge. The Bosch storage system weighs 242kg with six batteries. Both SolaXbox and Bosch stand at 175cm tall.

The market choice for solar battery storage solutions is growing and that’s a good thing. It’ll drive prices down and give more households the opportunity to save money. It’s inevitable that battery storage will become a normal part of households over the next ten to twenty years.

We often get asked, is battery storage safe? If used properly and is well looked after, then yes. There are potential risks, but these risks are no different to the electrical risks already present in your home.

So, what is the future of solar storage?

A recent Climate Council report states the following findings in regards to solar storage:

  • Half of all households in Australia are predicted to adopt solar systems with battery storage, with the market potentially growing to $24 billion.
  • Solar PV systems with added battery storage will become the most economical solution to provide electricity.
  • The rapidly falling cost of batteries is expected to make electric cars cost-competitive with conventional cars within the next twenty years, leading to much greater uptake.
  • A battery storage system can almost double a household’s self-consumption of solar PV. Adding a 4 kWh battery to a 5 kWh solar system can increase the amount of self-generated solar electricity a household consumes from 30 to 60%.
  • In Australia, most solar PV systems ‘pay for themselves’ in less than a decade. A Choice (2015) survey of 700 households with solar PV found the average payback period was 3 years and two months.

The solar panel tier triangle

If you’re considering installing solar and you’ve been doing your research you would have noticed solar panels referred to as Tier 1, 2 or 3. So, what does the solar panel tier triangle actually mean? As you’re about to learn, not all solar panels are created equal.

Tier 1 solar panels:

These panels are produced by the top 2% of solar manufacturers. They are vertically integrated which means they don’t just assemble solar panels using other companies’ products. They manufacture their panels from the ground up. Therefore they control the production process for everything from the silicon cells to the modules frames and ultimately panel assembly.

Tier 1 solar panel manufacturers also invest a lot of money in research and development and they have been manufacturing panels for longer than five years. Most importantly their manufacturing process uses advanced robotics which eliminates human production error and ensures a much higher standard of finished product.

Tier 2 solar panels:

These panels are produced by small to medium scale manufacturers who have been producing panels for 2-5 years. They take up approximately 8% of the solar panel market. Although they may aspire to become Tier 1 manufacturers, they invest little in research and development. Generally they only use partial robotics, still relying on manual work from human production lines. In saying this, there is nothing wrong in choosing a Tier 2 solar panel. They generally meet a price point that suits a lower to medium budget and usually provide warranties similar to that of a Tier 1 product.

Tier 3 panels:

These panels are assembled by companies that don’t manufacture their own silicon cells. In other words, they assemble solar panels using other companies parts. They use a human assembly line only with no robotics and invest nothing in research and development. Approximately 90% of new solar pv manufacturers are Tier 3.

(Image source: Pike Research)

When weighing up your options, in a nutshell:

  • Tier 1 solar panels = Quality from a highly reputable company
  • Tier 2 solar panels = The middleman
  • Tier 3 solar panels = Low end and risky

10 Exciting Solar Technologies on the Horizon

Solar power technology continues to move forward quite rapidly, with new advancements being transformed into workable installations on practically a daily basis.

1. Water Cooled Solar Panels

A specially designed, acrylic concentrating, short focal-length lens is used by the Pyron Solar Triad to refract and reflect light to effectively concentrate within a small pinpoint of light the equivalent power of 6,500 suns. This concentrated light is captured by a secondary optic and focuses it onto a small PV cell. The company states that more than 800 times electricity is produced by the HE Optics System compared to a silicon solar cell of a similar size.

2. Home Solar into Hydrogen Storage

This year a company was formed by Daniel Nocera, an MIT professor, to commercialize a new type of technology that has the ability to “split water” as well as store solar energy. The key objective of the company is to produce a solar energy breakthrough via making solar energy widespread and inexpensive.

3. Paintable and Printable Solar Panels, Solar Roof Tiles

If it was as easy to install solar power as it is to paint your roof using solar paint or placing new shingles on your house, then the bar for home solar installation would definitely be lowered. Paintable solar technology is referred to as silicon ink.

4. Thin Large Film Solar Panels

Thin amorphous silicon based film technology is used by the SunFab system for delivering the most powerful and largest thin film panels in the world in combination with inexpensive materials and one of the most advanced fabrication technologies in the industry. The thin film solar panels from SunFab feature a frameless design, which eliminates two major field reliability challenges when it comes to thin panels: a structure integrity that weakens over time and water penetration.

5. Organic Solar Concentrators

MIT engineers have created an affordable and sophisticated method for transforming regular glass into a high-tech solar concentrator. Dye-coated glass is used for collecting and channeling light. Usually this is lost from the panel surface. The technology may enable buildings to make use of tinted windows for collecting energy. A company called GreenSun has designed bright-colored panels for capturing various part of the spectrum of the sun. Direct sunlight isn’t needed in order for them to work properly.

6. Space Based Solar

A gigantic space-based solar power generator is being developed in Japan for transmitting solar energy from 6,000km high to earth within approximately 30 years. The $21 billion project is being backed by the Japanese government. It includes a solar powered space station that contains four square kilometers worth of solar panels, that will crank out approximately 1 gigawatt of electricity – sufficient for nearly 300,000 Tokoyo homes.

7. Solar Roads

This concept from Solar Roadways would involve using glass panels to pave roads with in order to collect solar energy and distribute it for heating during the winter and lighting roads at night, with enough leftover electricity for powering businesses and homes. Scott Brusaw, the founder, has estimated that every mile worth of solar panels can power 500 houses. He estimates it would cost around $5,000 to produce one 12′ x 12′ Solar Panel Roadway panel.

8. Concentrated Solar

The SunCatcher from Stirling Energy System is comprised of a solar concentrator within a dish structure. It supports a series of curved glass mirrors, and could be deployed soon in Arizona as the first commercial-scale installation of the most efficient solar technology in the world. A system of mirrors that are fixed to a parabolic dish is used by the SunCatcher to concentrate the energy of the sun onto the very efficient Stirling Engine. Each of the dishes generates as much as 25,000 watts of power.

9. Nanotechnology Solar

McMaster University researchers have grown light-absorbing nanowires in Ontario that are made out of high-performance photovoltaic materials on highly durable yet thin carbon-nanotube fabric. The tiny particles have also been embedded into a flexible polyester film that can result in solar cells that are less expensive and more flexible compared to the current photovoltaics that are available.

A team from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton has developed a series of new photovoltaic devices that use a process that can be found in photosynthesis for delivering impressive quantities of electrical current from the light.

10. Integrated Grid Ready Solar

Proprietary technology from Akeena has been used to build Andalay AC solar panels. The electrical grounding, wiring and racking components are integrated into the actual panels. The company reports that this helps to protect against breakdowns as well as increase system reliability, which saves thousands of dollars over its 30 year life. Safe household AC power is produced by Andalay AC solar panels. It will allow for an easier and safer installation process for do-it-yourselfers and solar installers through reducing how many parts are needed by 80%. Potentially dangerous and complicated DC wiring is also eliminated.

WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

I would like to thank solar 2015 for a pleasant and professional transaction regarding our solar panel and inverter installation. Your sales person was prompt and honest with regards his presentation. Your installers were excellent and knowledgeable regarding the installation. The installers certainly went above and beyond. My congratulations to yourselves on being professional, courteous and competitive. I will liaise with yourselves over the coming months to initiate my battery installation next. Thanks again.

Mark W, Kedron,

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