Tag Archive | advantages and disadvantages of solar power

Solar Industry News : Pv Industry Become More Powerful, Especially In China

Solar will be the world’s most popular power source by 2050, that the cost of solar PV technology will fall by 50 percent in the next ten years and  that solar will inevitably be the energy source of the future by 2050, one researcher once said.

Though support through feed-in tariffs has almost disappeared throughout the country, Australians have found that Chinese solar panels are the key to installing affordable domestic solar systems. So much so that well over a million of our households are powered by solar systems.

A remarkable achievement.     However the dive down the cost curve is a two-edged sword according to some analysts. While the availability of affordable panels has driven the “ground up” Australian solar market from consumers, it has also stymied — even destroyed — the output of Australian PV manufacturers of solar panels . This is not just an Australian phenomenon. With looming trade wars over alleged protectionism from countries such as the United States, who aren’t exactly angels when it comes to subsidising their export industries to gain a competitive edge.     Many of course rightly point out the contradiction that China presents when it comes to supporting renewable energy while still being the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels. The solar will be at the forefront of this technological advance, solar energy is fast becoming more affordable. It is only to be presumed that these savings will be translated to other countries such as Australia who know only too well of the benefit of Chinese solar products.     Chinese solar panel When we look at the year ahead for renewable energy, and try to divine the development of the Australian solar market, one of the first conclusions is the importance of neighbouring countries. I’m talking here of the continued role China plays in solar energy in Australia.     It’s not an exaggeration to say thatbenfeits of solar power,cheap, quality solar panels from China have driven the domestic demand for solar panels in Australia. Despite wide open spaces for solar farms and abundant sun, Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world in renewable energy. We haven’t take your rightful position as one of the leaders in the world in developing large scale renewable energy as we should.     The misconception is that we “punch above our weight” in all issues from international diplomacy, to sporting fixtures, to energy policy. However true this may be for other areas, it lacks credibility when it comes to renewable energy and climate policy. Here we’re content to sit back and allow the world to take the lead, it appearsFree Reprint Articles, with the modest gains of previous governments swept aside.

 

Will We Soon Be Riding on Solar Roads?

The Idea Gains Traction

 Countries—U.S., France, Netherlands—are testing ways to pave roads with solar panels. Their plans have skeptics.
 

Solar is popping up just about everywhere, even landfills and parka pockets. So why not roads? Indeed, solar road projects are gaining interest around the world, and some promise to even charge electric cars while moving.

The Netherlands built the first solar road, a bike path, in 2014. France announced a bolder move in January—over the next five years, it plans to install 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of solar roads, designed to supply power to five million people.

In fact, on December 22, France opened the world’s first solar road for cars, in a Normandy village. The 0.6-mile route in Tourouvre-au-Perche is covered with 2,800 square meters of electricity-generating solar panels. The goal is powering street lighting.

The project, which cost around 5 million Euros, is expected to be used by about 2,000 motorists a day.

German company Solmove aims to bring solar panels to German roads, and Idaho-based Solar Roadways has received three rounds of U.S. government funding (plus $2 million in venture capital) to test its technology.

“We have interested customers from all 50 states and most countries around the world,” says Julie Brusaw, who co-founded Solar Roadways with her engineer husband Scott. She says before hitting the open road, they’re testing their panels in non-critical areas such as parking lots, walkways, and their own driveway.

“We are in talks about some very interesting projects,” she says, noting the Missouri Department of Transportation wants to install the panels at a rest area along the I-70 highway. The couple say their tempered-glass panels offer asphalt-like traction, support the weight of semi-trucks, include LEDs for signage, and contain heating elements to melt snow and ice.

Could solar panels really pave the roads of the future? Proponents see endless possibilities, but others raise questions about cost, efficiency, and durability.

“We just place our solar panels on an existing pavement,” says Jean-Luc Gautier, inventor of the Wattway technology that will be tested this spring in France before its polycrystalline silicon layer is applied to actual roads. Gautier, technical director at construction company Colas, says he was inspired by the fact that roads look at the sky so they can collect solar energy.

Julie and Scott Bursaw, an Idaho couple who co-founded Solar Roadways, poses in front of a prototype for their solar-embedded pavement.

 

PHOTOGRAPH BY SOLAR ROADWAYS

“The sheer amount of surfaces each country devotes to roadways is enormous,” the Bursaws write on their website. “Allowing this space to double as a solar farm could have very positive implications in the battle to put a halt to climate change.” They estimate that their panels, if used in lieu of existing U.S. roads and walkways, could produce more than three times the electricity used in the United States.

Besides, they say their panels could charge electric vehicles, first on solar parking lots. With enough solar highways and cars with the right equipment (to pick up energy from induction plates in the road) they might even be able to charge vehicles while moving.

THE COST CHALLENGE

“In theory, solar PV roadways sound great. The issue is cost.” says Mark Jacobson, an engineering professor at Stanford University who has promoted a plan for powering the U.S. solely with renewable energy. (Read about his blueprint for a carbon-free America.)

“Aside from road dust, particularly black tire dust and diesel exhaust, which will quickly cover a portion of each panel, the continuous traffic covering panels will reduce their solar output,” says Jacobson, adding they’ll likely suffer more wear and tear and need more repairs than other solar panels.

He also says that while they don’t require land acquisition costs, as do solar power plants, their panels cannot be rotated for optimal solar exposure. He expects a solar road won’t be able to compete on cost, but “I’m hopeful it will.”

“Installing photovoltaics in roads seems like a daft idea at first, “says a report last month byIDTechEx, an independent research and consulting firm. “A closer look reveals that most of the problems are easily overcome and even at poor efficiency, that local electricity has viable uses.”

Despite high costs, company chairman Peter Harrop says solar roads might work in places that are putting down roads for the first time. “They need early (technology) adopters like China that want to leapfrog in development.”

In contrast, “I can’t see solar roads in London,” he says, noting the city often digs up its roads for underground repairs.

So far, the Netherlands’ solar path is popular. In its first year, 300,000 bikes and mopeds rode the initial 70-meter (230-foot) stretch connecting two Amsterdam suburbs. Officials say the SolaRoad produced more energy last year than expected—enough to power three households. It’s made of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased in concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass.

In the U.S., Solar Roadways has received more than $1.5 million from the Department of Transportation over the last six years to develop and test its hexagonal-shaped panels.

“One of the shortcomings Solar Roadways has yet to resolve is the manufacturing process,” two DOT officials wrote in a December post, noting the solar cells are handmade and thus “very costly” to produce. Julie Bursaw says the company’s most recent prototype is less costly to produce, 25 percent more efficident, and easier to install.

The DOT officials, Michael Trentacoste and Robert C. Johns, say the agency has received “a lot of positive feedback” about the project; the company’s promotional video has 21 million views on YouTube. Because the panels can melt snow or keep water from freezing, even with high costs, they say the innovation “could still be useful in smaller areas such as parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, and bike lanes.”

This story was originally published on March 10, 2016 and was updated on December 22, 2016 with information about the opening of the solar road in France.

The story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

On Twitter: Follow Wendy Koch and get more environment and energy coverage at NatGeoEnergy.

 

Solar Energy Pros and Cons

Below you`ll find a list over the various pros and cons of solar energy. By clicking on one of the blue links, you will be taken further down on the page for more in-depth information. Everything you are about to read is properly referenced at the bottom.

 Advantages of Solar Energy

1. Renewable

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that we cannot run out of solar energy, as opposed to non-renewable energy sources (e.g. fossil fuels, coal and nuclear).

We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA[1]. We have worse things to worry about; in fact, scientists have estimated that the sun itself will swallow Earth 5 billion years from now.

2. Abundant

The potential of solar energy is beyond imagination. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.[2]

3. Sustainable

An abundant and renewable energy source is also sustainable. Sustainable energy sources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, solar energy is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Harnessing solar energy does generally not cause pollution. However, there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources. It is clear that solar energy reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. This is an important step in fighting the climate crisis.

5-energy is available all over the world. Not only the countries that are closest to the Equator can put solar energy to use – Germany, for example, has by far the highest capacity of solar power in the world.

6. Reduces Electricity Costs

With the introduction of net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) schemes, homeowners can now “sell” excess electricity, or receive bill credits, during times when they produce more electricity than what they actually consume.

This means that homeowners can reduce their overall electricity expenses by going solar. Data from One Block Off the Grid reveals that adding solar panels to your home can bring in monthly savings of well above $100 in many states. In Hawaii, residents save on average $64,000 after 20 years!

Nowadays, most homeowners choose leasing or power purchase agreements to finance their solar panels. This drastically reduces, or in some cases completely eliminates, the upfront costs of a solar panel system, and allows homeowners to start saving money from the first day.

If you want to learn more about the advantages specifically related to residential solar photovoltaic panels (generating electricity with solar energy at home), then check out Benefits of Solar Panels.

7. Many Applications

Solar energy can be used for many different purposes. It can be used to generate electricity in places that lack a grid connection, for distilling water in Africa, or even to power satellites in space.

Solar power is also known as “The People`s Power”, which refers to how easily deployable solar panels are at the consumer level (both photovoltaic and solar thermal).

With the introduction of flexible thin-film solar cells, solar power can even be seemingly integrated into the material of buildings (building integrated photovoltaics) – Sharp, a solar panel manufacturer with headquarters in Japan, recently introduced transparent solar power windows.

8. Shared Solar

Because of shading, insufficient space and ownership issues, 1/5 American homes are simply unfit for solar panels.[3] With the introduction of shared solar, homeowners can subscribe to “community solar gardens”, and generate solar electricity without actually having solar panels on their own rooftops.

9. Silent

There are no moving parts involved in most applications of solar power. There is no noise associated with photovoltaics. This compares favorable to certain other green-techs such as wind turbines.

10. Financial Support from Government/State

Government and state rebates have become available both on utility-scale and for the majority of homeowners. This means that the effective costs of solar panels are much less than what they used to be. In some cases, the price of a residential photovoltaic system can be cut more than 50%.

11. Low Maintenance

The majority of today`s solar power systems do not required a lot of maintenance. Residential solar panels usually only require cleaning a couple of times a year. Serious solar manufacturers ship 20- or 25-year warranties with their solar panels.

Technological advancements are constantly being made in the solar power industry. Innovation in nanotechnology and quantum physics has the potential to triple the electrical output of solar panels.

 

Disadvantages of Solar Energy

1. Expensive

Is solar power really expensive? This is probably the most debatable aspect on the entire solar energy pros and cons list. The driving forces behind the development of solar energy are rooted in politics. Solar power is incentivized to compete against other energy sources on the market. On the other hand, the U.S. government, similarly to the rest of the world, provides incentives to every major energy production market – not just solar.

In 2010, coal received $1,189 billion in federal subsidies and support for electricity production while solar is not far behind at $968 billion.[4]

Nowadays, the best solar panels can in many situations be cheaper than buying electricity from the utility. This wouldn`t have been possible without incentives.

2. Intermittent

Solar energy is an intermittent energy source. Access to sunlight is limited at certain times (e.g. morning and night). Predicting overcast days can be difficult. This is why solar power is not our first choice when it comes to meeting the base load energy demand. However, solar power has fewer problems than wind power when it comes to intermittence.

3. Energy Storage is Expensive

Energy storage systems such as batteries will help smoothen out demand and load, making solar power more stable, but these technologies are also expensive.

Luckily, there`s a good correspondence between our access to solar energy and human energy demand. Our electricity demand peaks in the middle of the day, which also happens to be the same time there`s a lot of sunlight!

4. Associated with Pollution

While solar power certainly is less polluting than fossil fuels, some problems do exist. Some manufacturing processes are associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Nitrogen trifluroide and sulfur hexafluoride has been traced back to the production of solar panels. These are some of the most potent greenhouse gases and have many thousand times the impact on global warming compared to carbon dioxide. Transportation and installation of solar power systems can also indirectly cause pollution.

The bottom line is this: There’s nothing that’s completely risk-free in the energy world, but solar power compares very favorably with all other technologies.

5. Exotic Materials

Certain solar cells require materials that are expensive and rare in nature. This is especially true for thin-film solar cells that are based on either cadmium telluride (CdTe) or copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS).

6. Requires Space

Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices.

The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m².[5] This is more than any other renewable energy source, but not comparable to oil, gas and nuclear power.