September 29 2014
Solar energy is fast becoming popular all around the world as a growing number of people turn towards renewable energy generation to combat carbon emission problems.
Burning fossil fuels takes a toll on the environment, leading to an increased use of power generated from renewable sources. Among the many renewable sources of energy in Australia, solar power has established itself as a preferred choice of consumers due to a number of advantages.
So what’s all the solar fuss about? Let’s have a look.
No Greenhouse Gases
The foremost advantage of switching to solar power is that it does not produce any greenhouse gases at all, apart from the stage of solar panel production itself, and even then it is minimal.
Solar power is produced when the sun’s radiation hits the solar panels, and heat is transmitted through conduction – a process that does not involve any gas, smoke, or any type of chemical by-products.
This is without doubt the most powerful driving force behind green energy technology, as Australia attempts to meet it’s climate change responsibilities in order to curb carbon emissions.
Never-ending Free Energy
Beyond the initial expenses incurred during installation and maintenance, solar power is completely free. It is not dependent on raw materials such as oil or coal, and it requires considerably less labour as compared to fossil fuel power plants. The majority of solar panels constructed today have a life expectancy of around 40 years.
Decentralisation of Water
Solar power offers decentralisation of water at sunny locations. Instead of relying on clean water to be supplied by a large company, local water can be treated and made drinkable using a solar powered treatment unit.
This results in self-reliant societies, particularly where transportation of water across the country adds to the costs, including pollution costs of transporting, monetary costs, and costs incurred as a result of the wear and tear of roads. All of these additional expenses can be avoided through installation and use of solar power systems.
Solar energy can be easily produced both on and off the power grid. On grid means when a particular house remains connected to the state’s electricity grid. Off-grid, on the other hand, means that it has no connection whatsoever to the state electricity grid and is self-sustaining.
For those people who live in isolated and rural areas, producing energy off grid is a major plus point. Quite often, installation of power lines is extremely expensive in these areas, while some others have frequent power outages.
Today, even some city dwellers are opting to go off the grid in an attempt to lead a self-reliant lifestyle.
One excellent advantage of solar energy production is that it creates lots of jobs. These jobs come in a number of forms, including manufacturing; monitoring, installing and maintaining solar power systems; while research, development, cultural integration and policy jobs are also created.
Solar Power Avoids Price Volatility and Politics
Solar energy is able to avoid price volatility and politics that usually daunt the fossil fuel market. Due to the fact that the sun is an unlimited commodity, and that sunlight can be sourced from a number of locations, solar energy is far less vulnerable to the manipulation of price and politics.
A glance at the numbers shows that the price of fossil fuels has increased over the past few years, while per watt price of solar power has almost halved over the past ten years.
There’s no denying the fact that solar energy technology is being improved in leaps and bounds. These developments have led to a significant drop in the prices of solar panels, and have made it affordable for the masses. A technology that was expensive and bulky yester-year, has become extremely efficient and more accessible, and continues to do so.
September 19 2014
We have the ability to harness solar power and convert it directly into electricity. However, the process that takes place in order to generate electricity using sunlight is not known by many people. Solar panels – devices that carry out this task – are the main component of any solar energy system. A brief understanding of what these solar panels do is a prerequisite to understanding how electricity is generated through sunlight.
Let’s talk about how a typical solar energy system for a home works. The working principle of the solar panels is the same for commercially generated electricity; the only difference is that once a solar power plant generates electricity, it feeds it to the power transmission grid.
Solar cells are typically small, square panels that are constructed using silicon or other materials that can conduct heat. Whenever sunlight hits a solar panel, chemical reactions take place that release electrons, thus generating electricity.
A number of solar cells combine to make a solar panel, and these solar cells are often referred to as photovoltaic cells (PV cells). PV cells can power something as small as a handheld calculator, or can be large enough to provide energy for a house or a business.
Components of a Photovoltaic (PV) System
A PV system has several components, including:
• PV Modules (solar panels)
• Batteries (one or more, depending on the requirement)
• A Charge Controller
• An Inverter (to convert DC to AC)
• Mounting Hardware
The solar panels are arranged on a rooftop in a way that they get sunlight for as long as possible throughout the course of the day.
How a Solar Energy System Works
- The process of electricity generation starts when solar energy hits the solar cells (on the solar panels) and is absorbed into the cell. Once these photons (from the sunlight) enter the cells, they activate electrons in the silicon layers.
- Once these electrons get into motion, electricity is generated and it starts to flow into the circuit consisting of other PV system components.
- Due to the fact that solar panels create DC (direct-current), and home appliances operate on AC (alternating current), an inverter is required to convert DC into AC.
- After the electricity has been converted into AC, it feeds the household circuitry, allowing you use your appliances.
Off Grid and On Grid
Off grid power systems are self-reliant and have no connection to your local utility company’s power grid. These systems rely on batteries to store energy for the night when there is no sunlight, during which time no electricity can be produced.
On grid systems, however, generally do not require batteries as they are connected to the utility company’s power grid. During the daytime, you can use the electricity generated by your solar power systems; at night, you can switch over to the utility grid with no problems whatsoever. Many power companies offer a rebate to those people whose solar systems feed excess power to the power grid.
The size of your solar power system generally depends on a number of factors, including:
- How much electricity is required
- How much hot water is used
- The size of your roof
- How much you can invest
The above factors will determine how large or small a solar energy system you need for your house or business.
A solar power system is neat and produces electricity without any emissions at all. It’s a great way to contribute towards a sustainable environment that is free from pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. With passing time, the cost per watt of electricity from solar systems is going down significantly, making it a more affordable choice for homeowners.
September 16 2014
Whether your solar is a transparent part of your life or a key strategic asset, you’re always on the lookout for tips to maxmise your solar savings…RIGHT?
Solar Savings Tip 1: Energy efficient appliances – Unplug your appliances when they’re not in use – your TV, computer, microwave and even some washing machines have a ‘standby’ mode which means they’re still using energy even when they’re not in use.
Solar Savings Tip 2: When you are generating solar, use it! Unless you are on an attractive PFIT or TFIT you should consider running your appliances in the day, harnessing the suns free energy then whatever is left, you can feed it back into the grid.
Solar Savings Tip 3: Modern lighting solutions – Purchase LED lights now. They can make savings of up to 82% on regular lighting bills compared to 50w Halogens. Plus they have up to a 25 year lifespan meaning. No brainer.
|Are you a TVS customer? WE MAY HAVE…|
Solar Savings Tip 4: Efficient heating and cooling – Insulating your roof or ceiling will help keep your home a pleasant temperature in summer and winter. It saves you money on energy bills, and pays for itself over a relatively short time.
Solar Savings Tip 5: Keep an eye on the thermostat – It doesn’t always have to feel like the Arctic one minute, the Sahara Desert the next. Reduce the temperature setting on all your heating and air-conditioning units, plus your hot-water system by two to three degrees. It will make a difference.
September 15 2014
Australia has seen significant growth since 2006 in the interest and the production of renewable energy. According to estimates, in 2012 Australia produced 13.14 percent of its total electricity production using renewable sources, including solar energy, hydro power, wind power, wave power, biofuels, biomass and geothermal energy.
The contribution of each type of renewable energy source towards the generation of electricity varies; however, it is clear that developments in renewable energy continue to advance, and the efficiency and available power will keep increasing.
The most popular renewable energy options in Australia are solar energy, wind energy, hydro power, and geothermal energy.
Here is a rundown of each of the popular sources, and what they entail.
Solar energy is created from sunlight. Solar power is captured when the heat from the sun gets converted into electricity. Alternatively, solar power can also be used to heat water, air, or any type of fluid.
This is also the most popularly used renewable energy source in Australian households. Solar energy systems are now more efficient than ever, and can generate electricity for the whole house. You can even get a rebate on your electricity bill if you successfully feed surplus electricity generated by your solar systems back into the grid.
To use solar energy in your home, all that you need is to install a photovoltaic system on your rooftop and you can benefit from the sunny Australian skies.
Wind energy is generated when wind currents are converted into another form of energy. Wind turbines are used to carry out this conversion process, thereby creating electricity using a turbine that is rotated by the wind.
Wind energy power stations are normally called wind farms and consist of a great number of wind turbines installed over a certain area. The total electricity generated from these wind farms is then added to the electricity grid, to be used by households and businesses. It is not practical to install a wind turbine in your house, of course, but wind farms can help to relieve our reliance on fossil fuel electricity.
Hydropower is yet another common type of renewable energy that is used in Australia for electricity production. Hydropower makes use of the energy produced by moving water to generate electricity. ‘Hydroelectricity’ is generated when water is channelled through large turbines that rotate due to the pressure of the water, thus generating electricity.
Australia uses hydropower to generate over half of all the electricity that is created using renewable sources. However, you cannot install hydropower systems in your home.
The energy that is stored in the earth as heat is referred to as geothermal energy. This energy is quite abundant in Australia. Without getting too technical, the heat generally flows from within the Earth’s core towards the surface, and then into space.
This energy is utilised by sucking hot water from deep down in the earth’s surface and the steam is used to rotate turbines, thus producing electricity. This type of energy system is not practical to be installed in a household.
Geothermal energy has one major advantage over solar and wind power – it can provide energy 24 hours a day, unlike solar and wind power that depend on sunlight and wind currents respectively.
Australia gives great importance to tapping renewable energy sources to fuel electricity generation. While not all renewable energy systems can be installed for use by individual homes, they all help to reduce the negative impact we have on the environment. Alternatively, Solar energy systems are a promising and clean way of making a household self-sustaining.
Renewable energy is a way of fulfilling our day-to-day electricity requirements without polluting the atmosphere, and this is why we should use these sources to our advantage whenever possible.
September 11 2014
Here are a few facts that you may not know about solar power!
Solar panels are made up of cells, which are called photovoltaic cells. These are named after the photovoltaic effect, which is the creation of voltage upon exposure to light. When exposed to sunlight, the electrons in the cells become excited and jump free. These free electrons are accelerated into a different material in the cell, creating electricity.
Most parts in a solar panel can be recycled. Solar panels have a long lifespan, with most being guaranteed for 25 years, so do not need to be replaced regularly. However, being able to recycle panels adds to the environmental benefits of solar panels, and the long-term reduction in carbon emissions.
Technology is currently being developed that will use solar energy to cool buildings, as well as heat them. While electricity produced from solar power can power air conditioners, this new technology will actually convert the heat into cooling, significantly reducing the electricity used during Australia’s summer.
Solar power is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A kWh is equivalent to 1,000 watt-hours. As an example, a 40-watt light bulb uses 40 watts of energy in an hour. If you were to have the light on for 25 hours, it would have used a kilowatt-hour.
Germany is a solar power leader! Earlier this year, the country broke records, with solar power providing 50% of electricity during peak times on June 9. It must be noted that this is not the case every day, but this record and their commitment to solar power are an example of what other (sunnier) countries can achieve.
There are two types of solar technology: active and passive. Active technology includes solar panels and other harnessing methods. Passive technology includes architecture that works with the sun, such as to provide natural heating or lighting.
The planet has long been using solar energy in the form of photosynthesis in plants. Plants convert the light energy into chemical energy. During this process, the plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, supplying the oxygen that humans breathe.
Solar power helps combat global warming by reducing pollution. It does this by allowing us to use less electricity from fossil fuels, and because it doesn’t produce any carbon emissions itself. It also helps to save water, which is used in the production of electricity from fossil fuels.
Many countries use solar power to power their spacecraft. Being in space, it is not possible to connect the craft to our energy grid on earth, and solar power is even more accessible up there. The first spacecraft to be fitted with solar panels was the Vanguard 1 satellite, launched in 1958. Currently, the Hubble Space Telescope and The International Space Station use solar power. The International Space Station houses astronauts and weighs about 419,572 kg.
The Mojave desert in California is home to the largest solar thermal power plant in the world. The complex is called Ivanpah and is made up of three separate plants. It will reduce carbon emissions by 400,000 tons per year.
CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is working on developing renewable energy alternatives for Australia, solar being one of them. They predict that by 2050, around 30% of Australia’s energy supply will come from solar power.
More solar energy strikes the surface of the earth in one hour than is provided by all of the fossil energy consumed globally in a year. More energy from the sun falls on the earth in one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year. In one year, the Sun delivers more than 10,000 times the energy that humans currently use, and almost twice the amount of energy that will ever be obtained from all of the planet’s non-renewable resources.
Contact us for more information about solar power and how you can install it in your home.
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