Last updated on October 8th, 2019
A green energy revolution is on the rise across the world, and solar energy takes the lead in the overall renewable energy sources. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are undoubtedly an excellent innovation in the solar energy generation. There are countless advantages of photovoltaic cells.
Advantages of Photovoltaic Cells
Solar energy is an inexhaustible resource, eco-friendly and is one of the cleanest energy sources. Our planet receives enormous amounts of solar energy each day from the sun.
A study shows that in an hour, the sun radiates enough energy that can cover the entire human race energy consumption for a year.
However, the intensity and the amount of sunlight vary by the time of day and location. Climate and weather conditions affect the availability of daily sunlight. Solar panels can produce energy even on cloudy days. Here is a guide on how much energy solar panels can produce.
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Types of Solar Energy Collection
The size and the type of solar energy collection and conversion system also determine how much of the available solar energy that we can convert into useful energy.
The three most common types of solar collectors include:
Solar thermal collectors
Solar thermal collectors are low-temperature solar cells and absorb the heat energy from the sun to heat water for washing and bathing or swimming pools, or to warm air inside buildings.
Concentrating solar energy collectors make use of mirrors to reflect and focus sunlight onto receivers that in turn absorb solar energy and convert it to heat.
This thermal energy helps heat homes and buildings or produce electricity with a heat engine or a steam turbine that spins a generator.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells use a photoelectric phenomenon and convert sunlight directly into electricity. The uses of photovoltaic cells can range from systems that provide little amounts of electricity for devices like watches and calculators to huge systems that produce a significant amount of electricity that hundreds of homes use.
See Related: Solar Thermal vs Photovoltaic
Trends in Solar Energy
Millions of houses and buildings across the globe have installed PV panels on their rooftops. Many multi-megawatt PV power plants have also been built to provide an alternative to the conventional generation of electricity and to create new options for people to embrace green living.
There is an estimate that a section of 4% of the world’s desert regions with photovoltaic panels could supply an equivalent of all of the world’s daily electricity use.
Solar power technology has dramatically improved over the years. There are three common types of photovoltaic cells technologies which include: monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and thin film.
Here are the differences between monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar.
Today, windows can power homes and still offer them that panoramic view. Builders have devised ways to incorporate PV glass into homes, office buildings and high-rise towers and solar panels produce energy even in large scale such as in commercial buildings.
On rooftops, you’ll have to calculate how much your roof can support.
So what are the advantages of photovoltaic cells?
List of Advantages of Photovoltaic Cells
There are many advantages of solar cells, and they include:
Affordable and nearly everyone can adopt
One significant advantage of a photovoltaic system over alternative sources is that solar energy is naturally free and nearly everyone can invest in their power generation. Solar energy is energy supplied by sunlight, and thus it is freely accessible and abundant and is available anywhere there is sunlight.
While it requires one to make an initial capital investment, such costs are dropping drastically with significant advances in home-based energy storage. Solar panels cost is currently reducing radically and is expected to continue reducing in the next few years.
Solar panels are easy to install on residential rooftops or the ground without causing any interference to residents. Solar-powered consumer products such as portable solar panels, solar-powered chargers, and solar lights are widely available and affordable, and thus it’s easy to adopt solar energy use and go green.
On the converse, solar can require significant land. Here is how to calculate solar farm land requirements.
It is eco-friendly
Another advantage of a solar cell is that it is eco-friendly since it does not require fuel to operate and thus does not cause pollution, unlike fossil fuels that emit carbon except in rare instances like when manufacturing solar cells. PV panels provide clean and green energy.
When generating electricity with PV systems, there is no emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), and other harmful greenhouse gases such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), particular matter (PM10), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that fossil fuel and coal burning emits.
Solar PV panels are silent and do not make any noise when in use and thus, it is a perfect solution for urban areas and residential applications. It’s as simple as putting panels on a racking system.
Help cut electricity costs and save money
Installation of solar power panels in homes or commercial buildings helps reduce the dependency on the local electricity provider. Instead of purchasing electricity from the grid, the PV panels produce electricity that power home and buildings and thus can save on electricity bills.
Another benefit of going solar is when one generate more power than they use or need at a particular time. The electricity retailer may offer a feed-in tariff for the excess solar electricity that can be exported to the local utility during peak demand hours especially when the prices are highest. It is credited to the owners’ electricity bills which reduce electricity costs even further.
Solar photovoltaic panels are one of the major renewable energy systems that are usually subsidized by various governments through funding such as FITs, tax credits among others. The financial incentive for PV panels makes solar energy panels a smart investment alternative for everyone.
The amount of energy that one saves depends on how big your array is, the capacity of your storage system, the seasons, where you live and the sunlight available to you.
See Related: SunPower Solar Panels Review
Enhance the resiliency and reliability of the electricity supply
Going solar brings about a certain degree of independence from extreme weather conditions. In the instances when heavy snows and strong winds bring down power lines or if lightning strikes out power poles and transformers, solar power owners remain unaffected and continue to generate their power.
The PV panels are a reliable and valid solution to energy demand during peaks hours especially in hot summer months where energy demand is high.
See Related: Best Solar Panels for Camping
Long-time Warranty and Low Maintenance Costs
Operation and maintenance costs for PV panels are relatively lower compared to costs of other alternative sources of energy. PV panels have no mechanically moving parts, except in rare cases like when sun-tracking mechanical bases. Thus, they have fewer breakages and require less maintenance and repair than other renewable energy systems.
The glass solar panels are relatively fragile, but they have a shatter-proof tempered glass with a flexible substrate protecting the cells. The glass protects it from harsh climate conditions and can even withstand hail storms except for extremely worst storms. Some are manufactured to withstand winds of a speed of 140 miles per hour.
A majority of manufacturers offer a long-term warranty that can be up to 25 years for their panels and installers are also insured. There are no maintenance and cleaning costs.
Manufacturers provide detailed instructions and user manual on the primary care of their units and wiring and the installation firms also offer service agreements.
Some innovations now allow people to monitor the performance of their solar technology along with their home appliances. The internet of things (IoT) monitoring services and the new control systems allow homes and businesses to find efficient ways to gain the most substantial rate reductions and credits from the local utility.
Solar panels last a very long time. Read more about it in our solar panel lifespan guide.
Conclusions on the Advantages of Photovoltaic Cells
The advantages of solar power energy are many, and solar PV panels indeed have a highly promising future both economically and for environmental sustainability.
On the flip side, there are a few disadvantages of photovoltaic cells that include power generation is weather dependent, some may not have enough or suitable space to place the panels, the initial investment may be relatively high & with more extended ROI, and some potential pollution would still exist especially during PV panels manufacturing.
Different sectors across the world are working towards eliminating these disadvantages to make solar power the best source of energy and power generation and to allow green living.
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