An Overview of Solar Power – Today and Tomorrow

What is Solar Power?
Solar Power plants convert the sun’s energy into solar electricity. The sun is the largest source of energy in the form of heat and light energy. Solar Power has a huge potential to make a major impact on the electricity requirement in homes and industries. That the sun supplies as much energy onto the earth in a single day that equals the annual energy requirement is enough to judge the amount of solar energy that goes untapped.
How Solar Power Works
Solar Power Systems
Solar Power can be used to supply electricity to homes, commercial settings and RVs. There are various types of Solar Power systems. In an RV, it would be ideal to use a stand-alone solar energy system. This type of system has lesser number of solar panels and batteries, making them economical. The function of the batteries is to collect solar energy during daytime. The system has an inverter that transforms the DC current into AC current that can be used by the appliances.

Grid-Tied Solar Power System

You can also choose the grid tied Solar Power system, where you can enjoy the benefit of the savings offered by solar energy and the dependability offered by the utility’s power. You may also receive rebates or tax rebates in the form of incentives when you buy Solar Power systems.
It is essential that the grid-tied system has an inverter that transforms DC current into pure sine-wave AC current in order to optimally mesh-in with the utility grid. During nighttime and on cloudy days when solar energy is not available, you can rely upon the utility grid. Hence, generally these types of Solar Power systems don’t have batteries for storing energy. But, you can use batteries in these systems in order to ensure that you are not without power in case there is power failure at the grid.

Stand-Alone Solar Power System

stand_alone_solar_power_systemWhen you want to be entirely free of the utility grid, you can install a completely stand-alone Solar Power system. Such a system is quite environment-friendly, whereas other systems are based upon fossil fuels, directly or indirectly. In its construction, the stand-alone system is highly sophisticated. There are several inverters, at least two, ensuring sufficient amount of current for running larger appliances such as air conditioners. in addition, several batteries are required for storing energy. So far, a stand-alone solar energy system was generally found in places where utility grid system was not able to reach.

Hybrid Solar Power Systems

hybrid_solar_power_systemsThere are hybrid Solar Power systems, where solar energy is used in conjunction with a backup generator. Compared to stand-alone solar energy systems, hybrid systems have lesser number of solar panels. The generators can be relied upon when there is unavailability of sunlight, as during cloudy conditions and at night time.

With all these different types of Solar Power systems, you can choose the one that is ideal for your requirement.
Solar Power Home
Solar Power systems used in homes generally are based on heating air or liquid in residential solar panels. Liquid based solar energy home systems heat an antifreeze solution or water inside a hydronic collector. Air based Solar Power systems heat up air inside an air collector. Sunlight is collected by the system and heat is transferred direct to the building or storage system.

When the Solar Power system doesn’t provide the necessary heating, a back up system is also installed in order to provide the extra heating. Usually, where the energy is required for storage-based systems, liquid solar energy systems are used. Such systems are ideal for boilers, absorption coolers and heat pumps, and radiant heating systems. While both the air and fluid systems can be used for enhancing forced air systems.

Solar Power Cost
The cost of power generated from coal and natural gas can range from Rs. 2 to 3 per KWh. The cost of wind power falls between Rs. 3 and 3.2 per KWh. However, as of 2009, the cost of Solar Power from photovoltaic cells and solar thermal falls between Rs. 10 and Rs 15 per KWh.

Solar Power Lights
There are many types of Solar Power lights that can be used to illuminate your home and surrounding and at the same time saving the natural resources. These lighting systems will not only save electricity but also cause less pollution, emitting less amount of heat when compared to conventional lighting sources like bulbs. Solar lantern lights are extensively used for indoor lighting. All the solar lighting devices used for indoor lighting need to be charged when sunlight is available and used during nighttime.

Advantages Of Solar Power
Solar Power is becoming increasingly practical every day. From being an expensive source of electricity, solar energy has turned into an economical power source in the long-run. In addition to these savings, you are also going to save the monthly electrical bills as there are no recurrent bills to be paid.

The amount of electricity generated from solar energy depends upon the available sunlight. However, with new advances in technology it is possible to generate sufficient amount of electricity even in cloudy conditions.

The biggest advantage of using Solar Power is that it is an inexhaustible source of energy. Once you have installed the system, you don’t have to worry that you would ever be without electricity because the sun is always going to be there. However, at times the amount of electricity generated may be lesser and you would have to depend upon the utility grid. But, there are going to be times when you would be able to sell the excess electricity.

The next advantage of using solar energy is that it doesn’t emit any pollution into the environment. Solar panels don’t release any emissions into the atmosphere while generating electricity. This is not something that can be expected from electricity generated from thermal sources and hydroelectric source. Additionally, there are efforts on way to recycle solar panels.

Solar Power is flexible in its setup. When you want to power your entire home, a large number of solar panels can be mounted on the roof, and when you require solar energy to power the garden lights or something that requires less electricity, a smaller number of solar panels are required. Installing Solar Power systems can be timesaving because it doesn’t require running long wiring.

Solar Power can also be used for running a wide range of devices. It is suitable for running homes, industries and even for powering satellite. Even, solar powered cars have been developed, and efforts are on way to make these vehicles more economical. solar energy technology is also developing at a fast rate, making it more practical and economical.

Nowadays, even government is offering rebate and tax exemptions to those who install Solar Power in their home. This makes it possible for homeowners to install these systems at affordable prices. In the most remote locations, solar energy is the ideal source of electricity. In fact, it is more economical to install solar panels in such areas than running power lines.

A big advantage of solar energy systems is that a properly installed system doesn’t require much maintenance. When compared to other power sources, this is a big advantage because you cannot bear the heavy cost of power system maintenance.

Disadvantages of Solar Power
There is one disadvantage to Solar Power systems regarding reliability and consistency. A regular supply of sunlight is essential to keep generating electricity. Although, once the sun goes down, the solar energy level drops very fast. This makes it important to have a power storage device in the form of batteries so that you can have uninterrupted supply of electricity. If there are no batteries, there is going to be no electricity without sunlight.

The majority of disadvantages about Solar Power are more economical in nature. Even after lots of technological development, the solar panels used to produce electricity are quite expensive. A single solar panel can generate only a small amount of power. This means a large number of solar panels are required to generate enough amount of electricity to power houses and industries.

It is also required that the panels are angled properly through the day in order to align with the direct sunlight. Hence, it is essential to implement a mechanical adjustment system so as to turn the panels according to the angle of sunlight.

Future of Solar Power
Even though some critics argue that the future of Solar Power is based upon its reduction in cost, it is imminent that coal and fossil fuels are soon going to get depleted. Some utilities have reported that they cannot increase their rates in order to supply Solar Power to their customers as their customers stick to them due to the availability of low-cost electricity. But, solar energy beats these traditional sources of power when it comes to consideration for the planet and sustainability of the environment.

As per some experts grid parity, which is the point when solar energy is going to cost equivalent to traditional electricity, is going to take a decade more in some areas, and less in other areas. But, one thing is for certain that Solar Power is going to be the mainstay for electricity and other power requirements in a few years from now.