WHAT IS SOLAR POWER ?
So, what is solar power? Solar Power is simply electrical power produced or generated using solar panels. And what are solar panels? Solar panels are just that. Panels that are made out of solar cells measuring 2.5 feet wide and 5 feet wide approximately and their main purpose is to receive radiant energy from the sun, convert that energy into flowing energy called electricity. The flow of electricity are nothing but millions of electrons generated by the solar cells.
WHAT ARE SOLAR CELLS, SOLAR PANELS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?
Let us start with solar cells. They are the basic building blocks of solar panels. They are semi-conductors. Solar cells are similar to transistors in such a way that they both use silicon for their construction. They are constructed in such a way that they have the ability to absorb visible light or radiant light from the sun or artificial light and in turn convert that radiant energy into a flow of electrons or electricity.
Solar panels are composed of many solar cells connected together to generate a certain amount of electrical energy. For our purpose in this writing, we are looking at these solar panels as the electrical power generator. It is a renewable energy type of power generation because it utilizes nature, the suns rays, for its fuel or source of energy.
WHAT ARE SOLAR INVERTERS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?
Solar Inverters are electronic control systems or devices that perform several tasks within a solar electrical production system. Commonly referred to as Photo Voltaic (PV) systems, solar power electrical generating systems use these inverters to convert the Direct Current (DC) and voltages produced by the solar panels into Alternating Current (AC). Our electrical appliances including lights in homes, commercial establishments use AC type current and voltages. DC equipment are also out there but are not our mainstream type of appliances.
In solar systems where batteries are used for storage, inverters/chargers are used to charge the batteries from AC sources like an AC generator or the utility power. This is common in on-grid systems. When solar panels are used solar charge controllers are used to charge the batteries and this is common in off-grid systems.
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SOLAR CHARGE CONTROLLERS
When we use solar panels to charge our batteries, solar charge controllers are used to prevent overcharging the batteries. There are situations however where solar charge controllers are not used. This is where overcharging the batteries is not an issue.
WHAT ARE SOLAR BATTERIES?
Solar batteries are built in many types and configurations. For the most part, current solar batteries or storage systems are of the ‘chemical’ type. The most common and popular are the Lithium Ion types although in solar applications we are also seeing Lead acid types similar to what we see in our cars. Others are using Lithium Ion Phosphate or LifePO4 batteries. There are a number of battery types out there as you will see when you do a quick research on the subject.
Tesla, a US based battery manufacturer has been deploying their utility scale Powerpacks batteries. They now utilize these batteries in support of existing and huge power utilities to ‘inject’ power to the grid as needed. There is news that is backed by data from an installation in Australia showing the Powerpacks are helping the utility save as much as 90 percent in their electrical production costs. Tesla installed a 100MegaWatt battery system in Australia.
WHY SOLAR BATTERIES OR SOLAR STORAGE?
ALL forms or electrical power generation have something very important in common. Once electrical power is generated, that power has to be used NOW or STORED otherwise it is gone. Battery storage are taking advantage of their ability to store these unused power so we may use them at a later time. There is much to learn about the many solar storage batteries in the market.
WHAT ARE SOLAR FARMS?
Solar farms are huge PhotoVoltaic-based electrical power generation systems. They are in the MegaWatt (MW ) or a million watt range systems. In comparison, for an average home, we may see between 5-10kw or Kilowatt PV systems. Solar Farms are now and have been built in many advanced nations. The United States, Germany, Saudi Arabia and many other nations are building Solar Farms that are in the hundreds of MegaWatts. These Solar Farms are not the main source of electrical power yet in most nations but the rate that they are being added to the grids worldwide is indeed outpacing its competitors as hydro power, geothermal, nuclear-powered, coal, diesel power generation, natural gas etc. Germany is the first nation to have pioneered many programs in solar power generation and has declared that they have produced more than half of their electrical generation through solar power.
Solar Farms Are Normally in The Megawatt (Million watt) Size Electrical Power Generation Plants
WHAT ARE MICROGRIDS AND HOW DO THEY WORK? WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Microgrids are small or mini grids as compared to the Main grid. The main grid is the overall network of electrical production units or generators geographically scattered around a nations borders, its interconnecting distribution lines, sub-stations etc. The US and Canada are grid interconnected. Now, microgrids are independent small grids that can produce, control and distribute its own power within its specified electrical loads as buildings etc. Microgrids are composed of a combination of several power generating components. Nowadays we are seeing Solar PV as a major generating unit, coupled with a storage system as batteries then a back up power source as diesel or propane fueled generators.
Microgrids can operate in two different configurations. One configuration is called off-grid. This is where the main grid is not available at its location. The other configuration is on-grid where the microgrid is configured to run on its own power or to have the option to run part of the time connected to the main grid.
Microgrids Are Going To Be The Backbone of Future Main Grids
THE ADVANTAGES OF PV OR SOLAR POWER ELECTRICAL GENERATING SYSTEMS
- Location : One key advantage of PV systems is in its ability to be located just about anywhere. Your home or industrial building rooftop, in parking spaces, on floating platforms, in the desert or open lands. Any space where the sun shines that can hold several solar panels will be suitable. In comparison, present power generating units do not have that flexibility. Hydro, geothermal are geographically tied to their respective locations. Even coal driven power plants have to be located in places that are controlled by local policies. Nuclear is the same way.
- Scalability: Solar PV has this inherent quality to downscale. A few panels on your roof will support your home. Now, try installing hydro, geothermal or nuclear power generators on your roof! Solar panels and storage batteries are also now on RVs.
- The elimination of many distribution components is another advantage. With huge geographically restrained power generating units, distribution lines are very expensive components to build. Solar power in effect kills transmission lines.
- After a massive natural disaster like a super typhoon, hurricane, earthquakes or even a man made disaster as fires, internet hacking bringing our electrical grids down, those who prepared well with at least a small microgrid will always fare better than their neighbors who do not have the systems.
THIS WEBSITE IS ALSO FOCUSED ON THE MANY ASPECTS OF STORAGE BATTERIES AND OTHER COMPONENTS USED IN THE SOLAR INDUSTRY
Through your feedbacks and contributions in terms of material or information necessary to make sense of this effort, we will gather and share this information to come up with practical solutions and applications suited for your electrical energy needs wherever you are.