Solar Power History and Advantages
A renewable clean energy source
With awareness of climate change evidence and effects on the rise, both individuals and businesses alike are embracing the call to shift towards clean and renewable energy sources.
The Sun delivers enough energy to Earth in one hour to power the entire global economy for a year. We have an unlimited, reliable source of energy at our fingertips waiting for us to capture it.
For decades, humanity has been fairly dependent on coal, oil, and other fossil fuels for energy. Unlike solar energy, using these sources have grave effects on our planet, and with fossil fuels quickly dwindling, governments and the scientific community are looking for ways to access and wield the vast, inexhaustible clean resource coming from the sun every day.
The history of solar energy
The first observation of the Photovoltaic Effect happened in 1876 by William Grylls Adams, a professor of Natural Philosophy, and his student Richard Day. They discovered that when you exposed selenium to light, it can generate electricity. It wasn’t efficient, but it proved that even without heat or moving parts, selenium cells can convert light into electricity.
In 1953, Calvin Fuller along with Bell Laboratories colleagues Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chapin, discovered the silicon solar cell that can actually produce enough electricity to power small electrical devices.
Satellites in the USA and Soviet space programs were all powered by solar cells in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s, and they have been standard for powering space satellites.
The first solar cells became commercially available to consumers in 1956, but the high cost gave them a cold reception at that time. They were later on incorporated into toys and novelty items, and had been the first time that people got to see solar cells in action.
In the 1970’s, Exxon spearheaded the research that led to the discovery of a cost-effective way of producing solar cells. Cost went down from $300 per 1 watt solar cell in 1956, to $20 per watt.
Changes were observed quickly in the way we use solar cells. In the period between the 1970’s to the 1990’s, solar cells were used to power the warning lights on the top of off-shore oil rigs, railroad crossings, and as a source of energy for homes located in remote places.
Today, solar cells are used in a wide variety of creative places, from solar powered cars to solar powered aircraft. Recent technology and application of sophisticated supply chain and business processes has led to a state of “grid parity” where it is actually cheaper to buy solar than electricity from your utility company. Solar is now the fastest growing industry in the United States creating more jobs than the entire fossil fuel industry and is being adopted by leaders in both the private and public sectors.
What are photovoltaic solar cells and how do they work?
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, commonly known as solar cells, are responsible for converting solar energy to electricity. The name was derived from the process itself. Converting photons (light) into voltage (electricity) is dubbed as the PV effect.
This is the process of voltage creation in a material when it’s exposed to light. When a photovoltaic is exposed to light, it absorbs photons and releases electrons. When these free electrons are captured, electric current is produced, which can then be used as electricity.
An in-depth explanation of how to process works can give us a better idea of how light gets converted to electricity. Solar cells are produced from semiconductor materials such as silicon, which is widely used in the microelectronics industry. A shrill semiconductor wafer is specifically treated in a solar cell to make an electric field that has a positive side and a negative side.
The moment light energy strikes the cell, electrons get knocked loose from atoms in the semi-conductor material. If the electrical conductors are hooked to both the positive side and negative side like in an electrical circuit, electrons can be seized in the form of electric current. This can then be employed to power a light bulb.
What are solar thermal collectors?
A solar thermal collector is a device used for capturing solar radiation, absorbing sunlight, and collecting its heat for the purpose of heating water or air. It’s typically used in commercial buildings and homes to provide a natural and cleaner way of heating space and water.
Solar panel technology
With the ever-increasing demand for a renewable energy source, solar power has been brought to the forefront of innovation in the energy industry. In 2016, we saw great advances in solar panel technology. The development of wearable solar technology and solar design tech makes it easier for consumers to incorporate this clean innovation into their daily lives.
A wide range of opportunities in the advancement of solar panel technology was also realized through photovoltaics and concentrated solar power. One major enhancement was the development of solar skin design, a solar panel technology that allows homeowners to customize the way their solar panel looks to fit their home design and motif.
Solar powered roads are already in the testing phase. Located along the sidewalks of Route 66, the solar-powered pavement has the ability to generate clean energy. It’s equipped with LED bulbs that light roads and has a thermal heating capacity that can melt snow during winter.
Though wearable solar devices have been around for years, 2016 saw an innovation that allows tiny solar panels to be stitched into the fabric of clothing. Before, wearable solar products were limited to watches. The solar textile concept can expand into our home products like curtains that can absorb solar energy, and heated car seats to make that winter drive more comfortable.
Another useful solar technique is solar tracking. The solar tracking mount maximizes electricity production by following the sun as it moves across the sky. Its tracking system adjusts the angle of the solar array to best match the suns location. This innovation is not yet practical for residential solar, but increases efficiency enough to be worth the investment on a utility scale project.
In 2016, we also saw upgrades in solar panel efficiency. Perovskite solar cells have seen major breakthroughs; the result is a solar panel that generates 20%+ efficiency at a low cost.
The rooftop photovoltaic solar array, or rooftop PV system, is a system that has its electricity generating solar panels installed on the rooftop of a residential or commercial building. It consists of photovoltaic modules, mounting systems, solar inverters and other accessories.
Solar panels absorb sunlight, then convert it into electricity; the solar inverter then converts the electric current from DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current). These components added with the mounting and other electrical accessories make up a working system that will allow electricity to be produced and fed into the grid. Some systems may include a solar tracking system, and integrated battery solutions to improve performance.
Latest developments in solar energy for the home
The increased efficiency and reduction of cost in of the panels allows for a home to have a PV system installed that can completely offset the electric bills and be cheaper than paying for electricity the traditional way. These new panels last longer, cost less, and look better than they ever have before. The panels can be hidden in the back of the house and blend in perfectly with the roof, which has resulted in the explosive growth we are seeing the residential solar market.
Solar textiles are also being introduced to home products. Solar curtains can absorb heat and provide heating to your home. Solar car seats can capture energy from the sun and convert it to heat. Cost efficient solar panels are also available now, that can give consumers more watts with no additional charge.
Innovations in solar panel technology are constantly being developed. Soon, every part of your home will play an integral part in energy production without contributing to global pollution.
Advances in solar battery technology
New breakthrough in battery charging technology allows batteries to be charged under any form of light, may it be outdoor natural light or artificial indoor light. This provides a solution to energy storage concerns of solar cells.
The cost of “Going Solar”
We all know solar energy can reduce your electricity bills, but how much would it take for you to have that solar array installed?
In 2017, most homeowners pay between $2.87 and $3.85 per watt to install their solar panels depending on system size and complexity. The average cost of a solar PV system is $19,800 before tax credits. The U.S. average for system size is at 6 kW (6000 watts), using that, the solar panel could range between $17,220 to $23,100.
But if you convert to a home solar energy system, your monthly electric bill will drop to $0.00 from the day you turn on the system. Whether you pay up front or finance the project, at some point you’ll own your own system. This means you will be paying $0.00 for electricity!
We Have the Solution
For many people, even the lower price of $10,000 is prohibitive… or IS IT?
Let American Dream Solar convert your home to solar electric for an initial, up-front cost of ZERO Dollars!
You simply continue paying your monthly bill that you’re ALREADY paying, but instead of paying for actual electric energy, your monthly payments go toward amortizing the cost of solar installation.
Then after 5 – 7 years, the cost has been amortized… and you can STOP PAYING! Your monthly electric cost drops to $0.00.