How solar power works? Get to know the fundamental of grid-tied solar power, the basic configuration and application of solar power in real-life.
- Need for solar power system
- Renewable and
non renewableenergy resources along with climate change
- System overview
- Sun tracking solar panels
- Real life example/applications
- Frequently asked questions
The energy crisis is not a national issue, it is the issue that has been faced by every human being on this planet. The energy crisis is going to be the biggest issues throughout the world. Increased demand of energy and hence the shortfall are because of industrial development, overpopulation, overconsumption, huge wastage of energy resources, and the use of non-renewable energy resources (such as oil, coal and gas).
The non renewable energy resources are oil, coal and gas (also termed as fossil fuels). The fossil fuel deposits are being consumed continuously and hence we have to face the energy crisis. Besides fossil fuels are finite, they are also the cause of irreversible climate change, and hence responsible for the environmental degradation.
The simplest solution is to use renewable energy resources. We can overcome the energy crisis to some extent by using natural resources of energy which are renewable energy resources. Pakistan is rich in renewable energy resources like solar, tidal and wind energy.
Here we explain some of the basics resources of renewable energy:
The energy we obtained from the sun which is in the form of light and other electromagnetic waves. It is the most abundant source of energy in our planet. Unlike fossil fuels, this source of energy is sustainable and non-polluting and does not emit greenhouse gases when producing electricity. The process of producing electricity from solar power absolutely creates no waste, no emission, no combustion.
Solar Power / Solar Electricity:
Solar energy is converted into electricity then we called it as solar power.
How to harness solar energy?
The question is how can we harness solar energy and then convert it into electrical energy or electricity? Photovoltaics is the phenomenon of converting light into electricity. We can directly convert sunlight into electricity with the help of photoelectric effect. Some materials have the property of absorbing photons (tiny particles in light) when light incident on the surface of the material, photons release their energy and hence emission of electrons take place. This phenomenon forms the basis of solar power system.
There are several parts or components of a solar power system:
- Solar panels
- Solar charge controller
- DC to AC inverters
- Disconnect switches
Solar panels are also termed as solar electric panels, photovoltaic modules.
These are large flat panels mounted on rooftops, poles or directly placed on the ground with the help of specialized mounting equipment and wiring. It contains many of individual solar cells. Solar cells are building blocks of solar panels. Each solar cell has undergone a process called photovoltaic process when exposed to light.
Voltage ratings: solar panels are come with 12V, 18V, 24V, 42 and 60V power ratings. Solar panels can be combined into an array for greater output.
DC to AC Inverters:
The electricity produced due to
It helps to maintain battery charging or discharging function. If there’s a continuous voltage supply, the battery would overcharge, which may result in damage. The purpose of charge controller is to control proper charging and discharging of system batteries.
It is connected to the charge controller. It stores the DC power from solar panels, to supply electricity even when there’s no sunlight (during night).
They are used to disconnect the solar power system from home. In case of a short-circuits fault or surge from the grid, they immediately disconnect the solar power system from the mains grid.
Bi-directional Energy Meters:
It maintains check and balance of the energy consumed by the customer. Solar power systems are installed with this meter to measure the amount of power consumed and it also measures the amount of power is fed back to the grid.
Sun Tracking Solar Power System:
Sun tracking solar panels used to track solar energy and move automatically to get most of the energy form sun. This is an advancement made in traditional solar power system. Instead of a stationary solar panel, it includes a rotating system, that rotates solar panels with sun. Direct exposure to sunlight increases the efficiency upto 25%.
As I discussed above there are solar panels available in market that can power your home/office appliances. Besides commercial power consumption it is equally helpful in domestic purposes.I listed a few solar powered devices that are cost effective and energy efficient.
- Solar cooker
- Solar fans
- Solar lights
Here’s a solar powered attic fan that expels moist and warm air and provides fresh air to your home. It runs on 12V DC motor. You can place solar panel anywhere on your roof. Place it in the sunniest location of the roof to get maximum efficiency.
These are pole mounted lights with adjustable solar panels. The attached solar panel gathers light during day time and charges the battery. During night it automatically turns on and can illuminate upto 8 hours.
Solar cookers are used to cook food using solar energy. This is quite old now. It is
Frequently Asked Questions:
It is obvious, solar power systems work best during the sunniest part of the day. However at night, when there’s no sunlight, the efficiency of solar panels significantly drops. Solar power systems equipped with batteries that gather and store energy throughout the day. This energy uses during the night hours.
As you know, solar cells do not produce or generate their own energy/light. The moonlight results from the reflection from sunlight. The intensity of moonlight is much lesser than sunlight.
A solar panel can generate electricity with any light of appropriate wavelength (400 nm to 1129 nm). Electricity generates from moonlight would be approximately 300 times lesser than that produces from the sun.
Solar panels can work with or without direct sunlight. Indirect sunlight, they are most effective. Solar panels can still produce electricity when there’s rainy weather or light is blocked by clouds. Rain may affect the efficiency of solar panels, on the other hand, it helps to clean your panels.
The efficiency of a solar power system is described in terms of the sunlight incident to solar cells, and the ability of solar cells to convert it into electricity. In these days the efficiency of solar panels is up to 22%. The efficiency depends on the following factors
1. It depends on the climate, more sunshine more output
2. The position of solar panels, sun-tracking solar panels help in positioning according to the sunshine
3. It should be cleaned, otherwise, it is not going to produce maximum output