Monday, May 3, 2010

How Efficient Is Solar Energy

In the first half of the twentieth century solar energy was used in a very limited way. Coal, oil and natural gas were so cheap in the industrial countries of the world. As we are running out of non-renewable source of energy, mankind has started looking for renewable source of energy.

Today, almost all the countries use solar energy and many have plans to use larger amounts in the future.

The efficiency of solar energy depends on the materials used to make each solar cell. A solar cell is that portion of a solar panel in which sunlight is collected and converted to solar electricity. The materials within each cell that perform this valuable duty are called semiconductors. The efficiency of a solar cell is measured as the percentage of the total sunlight striking the cell that is converted into electricity by the cell.

The efficiency rating of using solar power can range from 5% to 15% but it can even increase to 40%. This level is enough for the amount of power that you need for your home. The number of solar panels that you need for your home is determined by the total output wattage that is required to supply the needed electricity.

There are three main types of solar photovoltaic cells and these are polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin film. Each has different efficiency ratings when converting the suns energy into electricity and they all have their pro’s and con’s.

The main difference between them is size and price. The more efficient technologies like monocrystalline are more efficient than the other two and so the panels are smaller and take up less space when comparing like for like in energy output but they are more expensive.

Thin-film solar panels are considered the wave of the future. They cost much less to manufacture than crystalline silicon panels but as of yet cannot equal silicon in conversion efficiency.

So, decide which panels you need to calculate your energy requirements, how much to invest and then compare the different panels. Find good suppliers and compare their rates and services. It is also important to be meticulous about specifications because these determine the difference in the prices.

There are many other aspects that can affect the efficiency of your panels.

1 . How often you clean them

2 . Are they infrared

3 . How much sun do they get

4 . How hot do they get.

It is a surprise to many people that for most panels their efficiency drops when the temperature starts to go above 25 Deg Celsius.

Value of solar energy does not seem very efficient, although it is improving year on year. However, don’t get too tied up about the efficiency of the panels, focus more on the output, size and level of investment.

Solar power is still a relatively young technology. Scientists and researchers believe they can create solar cells that will reach 30-40 percent efficiency and beyond in the not-too-distant future.