The matter of getting energy from renewable sources is very relevant today. While in some locations such energy would solve the basic problems, such as the lack of food, medical care, etc., in other locations it would contribute to the solution of such problems like environmental pollution, resource exhaustion, and others.
The sources of renewable energy are well known. Those are wind, water, and sun. Solar energy attracts special attention because it is inexhaustible. However, it is still not used as widely as people wish. The main problem is how to harness solar energy. While earlier, it was harnessed through the specific location of buildings, for example, with windows faced to the side where there is more sunshine. Now, solar panels are used to harness solar energy.
Just a couple of years ago, the efficiency of solar panels was limited. For example, they could transform solar energy only during hours when the sun was shining on them. Now, the technology has improved significantly. Such elements as a solar actuator and sensors have changed the way solar panels work. Solar actuators move panels to follow the sunlight. Thus, they make solar panels more efficient. Sensors are the elements that tell the actuators where to move the panel.
A Solar Panel: Is It Efficient Indeed?
A solar panel is very robust. It is designed to work in the most severe environments. From this point of view, this equipment is reasonable. A normal solar panel installation pays off within 1-2 years of service. While the service life of the equipment is normally around 25 years. So, from both economic and ecological points of view, solar panels are a very profitable investment.
The sun is an endless source of energy. More than 173,000 terawatts of this energy hit our planet daily. If we could use at least a small part of it, the problem of the lack of energy would be solved forever.
Solar panels are not completely harmless though. Many materials applied for the manufacturing of a solar panel are potentially hazardous or harmful. For example, for making photocells, silicon is used. Silica gas is explosive which poses a potential danger. Silicon production itself involves the use of sulfur hexafluoride. This gas contributes most to the greenhouse effect.
Solar panels are relatively cheap. However, they provide people with an easily accessible source of energy. That’s why they are widely applied in all walks of life.
- In farming, solar panels are used in difficultly accessible areas where the traditional energy sources are not available. Solar energy is applied to power water pumps to deliver water to livestock and fields. As well, it is used for the houses of farmers.
- Many households use solar panels for water heating. It is known that water heating contributes to up to 30 percent of the greenhouse effect. The solar energy allows eliminating this impact completely. In addition, solar energy allows for decreasing electricity bills.
- Lighting is one of the most common applications of solar panels. It is widely applied in areas where the traditional electricity systems are not available or using them can be potentially dangerous. Special sensors allow the lights to turn on and off automatically. Solar lighting systems allow preserving wildlife while still electrifying the areas where the traditional energy sources are not available or not unwished.
Do Solar Panels Have A Future?
We would say that solar panels, along with other technologies that use renewable energy, will replace the traditional ways of producing energy. For now, researchers still have many things to improve about solar panels. For example, many researchers are working to find out to find out how to increase the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. Their average efficiency is around 30 percent only. Most of the photovoltaic cells of a solar battery hardly reach 10 percent of their efficiency. Thus, there is room for improvement.
Solar panels are still expensive for most households. Even though they pay off within a relatively short period, this is still an investment that many households cannot afford. Hence, technology should be developed that will make solar panels more affordable.
Other than that, solar energy is being increasingly used to preserve the environment and to provide people with an endless source of clean energy.