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Posts Tagged ‘solar cell’

Costs for Thermo-photovoltaic Cells Significantly Reduced

Thermo-photovoltaic (TPV) cells are important for changing radiation from any heat source to power. These cells can generate power from the wasted heat which gets released when glass or steel is developed. Adding these TPV cells to domestic power systems can help generate power along with heating water. TPV systems are also overly complex for everyday use. Both of these reasons have made the TPV systems beyond industrial and domestic consumer routine set-up.

Prohibitive cost:

Though TPV cells can be used to enhance the domestic heating system efficiency, the price is a daunting factor in deploying cated on epi-ready substrates, these cells were commercialized for III-V layered epitaxial growth.

Unique new processing technique:

But IMEC has been researching more original and better methods. IMEC has used amorphous Si by diffusion and passivation to form the emitter. Ge substrates specially designed were produced and tested. Ge substrates defined (germanium-based) TPV cells had better quantum efficiency as compared to epi-ready started traditional TPV cells.

Benefits of new method:

The increased efficiency of the germanium-based TPV cells can means more electricity generation from waste heat. An addition in cell performance and reduction in price are the direct result of the surface passivation techniques and the new contacting technologies that had been uniquely formulated by IMEC. The new TPV cells will be crafted up on the special germanium substrate designed and produced just for this.

IMEC’s contribution:

Jef Poortmans, Director Photovoltaics, IMEC, claimed, “IMEC’s research into photovoltaics aims at finding techniques to fabricate cost-efficient and more efficient solar cells.” IMEC has had a long innings in making silicon solar cells and this has been instrumental in the success of their TPV research.

Better future:

As band-gap of the germanium is very near the emission height of the TPV system emitters, germanium-based photovoltaic devices can be found as the appropriate receivers for these kinds of systems. Now with the decreased cell price because of the better processing methods, the future of the market for thermo-photovoltaic applications looks brighter.

Searched Solar Info

The Ultimate Solar Cell?

The ultimate step in applying solar power is to convert uttermost energy from sun into electricity. This will make solar power extremely cost-advantageous compared to other traditional power sources. Seizing energy wasted as heat from the sun can increase solar transition efficiency greatly. Research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy is on-going to make this happen.

Not all solar energy utilized:

In reality only approximately 31% of solar energy is changed over into electricity. The rest of the energy is not able to be harnessed as it becomes heat – as ‘hot electrons’ – which is lost very rapidly because electrons cool down very quick. Capturing just about all solar energy and converting to electricity is the goal of the ‘ultimate solar cell’.

Utilizing the hot electrons:

Since half the solar energy is lost as heat, the first step will be to slow down the cooling rate of these electrons. The second step will be to seize the hot electrons and use them before the heat energy gets dissipated and lost. And harness the heat energy taking the electrons out via a conducting wire with minimum energy loss.

Semiconductor nanocrystals – quantum dots:

Quantum dots play a pivotal function in the transfer of hot electrons. The research demonstrated that the hot electrons can be transferred to a titanium dioxide electron conductor with the help of photo-excited lead selenide nanocrystals (quantum dots). The aim is to minimize energy loss by having the most efficient conductor wire. This will provide the fast removal of electrons from the solar cell before they cool down.

Solar power – the best energy source:

With growing awareness of dwindling sources of fossil fuels, green, environmentally friendly, bio-renewable energy sources are beacon lights of energy sources in future. Solar energy will be the most efficient and basic source of such energy. This research is an important step in the existence of the ultimate solar cell.

The team:

Chemist, Xiaoyang Zhu, University of Texas, Austin, led the team consisting of William Tisdale, Brooke Timp, David Norris and Eray Aydil – all from the University of Minneso and also Kenrick Williams, from University of Texas.

Light-driven Nanomotor

How we see things around us without noticing it! We know the unusual habit of the sunflower. How it moves with the movement of the sun each day. But if we want to move anything with the help of sunlight we are not as fortunate as the sunflower is. We first have to convert sunlight into heat or electricity and then convert any of this into mechanical energy. Scientists are trying to copy the action of the sunflower at nanoscale right now. It is no less than a miracle but scientists are the greatest magicians on this earth. Coming generations will reap the benefits of their hard work. A team of the University of Florida chemists is trying a new mechanism to transform light straight into motion – albeit at a very, very, very tiny scale.

Their paper will look soon in the online edition of the journal Nano Letters. The UF team produced a new type of “molecular nanomotor” driven only by photons. Photons are also known as particles of light. While this is not the first photon-driven nanomotor, but what differentiates this nanomotor with others is that this almost microscopic device is totally made up of a single molecule of DNA. This feature makes this photon nanometer special because this simplicity heightens the flexibility of the device. When we are going to use this photon nanomotor in the real world we can easily upgrade, modify, alter the existing one for development, manufacture and real-world applications. It is said that this technology can be used for various purposes and it ranges from medicine to manufacturing.

Huaizhi Kang, who is the doctoral student in chemistry at UF and the first author of the paper said, “It is easy to assemble, has fewer parts and theoretically should be more efficient.”

We have to stress the point again and again that the scale of the nanomotor is almost vanishingly small but its implications are not.

In its clasped, or closed, form, the nanomotor measures 2 to 5 billionths of a meter. When it is unclasped, it extends as long as 10 to 12 nanometers. According to the apparent scientific calculations the nanomotor uses substantially more of the energy in light than traditional solar cells, the amount of force it exerts is proportional to its small size. But it should be clear that size is not going to be a limiting factor.

If we try to glance into the future the nanomotor will successfully be implemented to microscopic devices. It can mend a defunct cell or fight viruses or bacteria. Nanomotor is made up of DNA, so it is biocompatible. While in the conceptual stage, those devices, like much bigger ones, will require a power source to function. One more advantage of the nanomotor is it leaves no waste when it converts light energy into motion.

Preparation of DNA molecules is relatively easy and reproducible, and the material is very safe,” said Yan Chen, a UF chemistry doctoral student and one of the authors of the paper.

But the practical world applications don’t seem easy. If we want to run an assembly line production or drive a vehicle by using nanomotors we would need trillions of those. They have to work together in harmony. Weihong Tan, a UF professor of chemistry and physiology, author of the paper and the leader of the research group reporting the findings, acknowledged, “The major difficulty lies ahead that is how to collect the molecular level force into a coherent accumulated force that can do real work when the motor absorbs sunlight.”

Tan is quite optimistic that the group has already started working on the problem and they would find an answer. He said, “Some prototype DNA nanostructures incorporating single photo-switchable motors are in the making which will synchronize molecular motions to accumulate forces.”

How idi the team make the nanomotor? The research team combined a laboratory-created DNA molecule with azobenzene. Azobenzene is a chemical compounds that reacts to light. A high-energy photon prompts one response, lower energy, another. The researchers attached a fluorophore, or light-emitter, to one end of the nanomotor to demonstrate the movement. At another end they had a quencher, which can quench the emitting light. Their instruments recorded emitted light intensity that corresponded to the motor movement. The research is being funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Radiation does cause things to move from the spinning of radiometer wheels to the turning of sunflowers and other plants toward the sun,” said Richard Zare, distinguished professor and chairman of chemistry at Stanford University. “What Professor Tan and co-workers have done is to create a clever light-actuated nanomotor involving a single DNA molecule. I believe it is the first of its type.”

New Concentration Solar Power Modules

The alternative sources of energy are perpetually evolving. Scientists and manufacturers are trying to come up with more beneficial products that are user friendly and efficient. Government is drawing policies that promote use of alternative sources of energy. Researchers, entrepreneurs and common people are devising their own ways to use clean and green sources of energy. We are reading nearly each day about some innovation in the area of alternative energy by one university or another. Newly, University of Lleida has designed a concentration solar power module that creates heat, cold and electricity. The unique feature of these solar power modules is that they can be integrated to façades or building roofs. People instrumental in this project are Daniel Chemisana who is a member of the research group in Agrometeorology and Energy for Environment, Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell. Both Manel Ibáñez and Joan Ignasi Rosell are lecturers in University of Lleida.

The team has formulated a thermal-photovoltaic modular system having a solar concentration of ten suns. Solar concentration of ten suns implies only a tenth part of a standard system’s active surface is needed to create the same energy. This energy can be in the form of electricity, heat, or both at the same time. It is understood that the reduction in the surface of used solar cells can lead to reduction in price of solar panels. The added advantage is this new technology can generate cold by connecting a heat pump to the system. They have already requested a worldwide patent for this system.

How this research team was able to reduce the surface area without compromising on the amount of power generation? A stationary lens and a linear absorber plate are the main components of the concentrator system. Lens and a linear absorber plate help in concentrating the sunlight to generate energy. This concentration system is responsible for reducing the space that until now was needed with traditional plates. It is to be known that traditional plates move around in search of sunlight.

Rosell also emphasized about the architectural integration that is the USP of this module. These modules can be installed either on roofs or in façades, which will definitely cut down their visual impact. You can set up these plates on roofs, on the closure of concrete or brick blocks. They will act as a curtain wall in the façades or as a part of the railings in terraces. You can term them as your “building’s second skin”. This module is useful for residential buildings, companies or farms.

Why one should go for this model? According to Rosell aside from making a second skin for a building, this device also demonstrates the global efficiency of energy conversion. The conversion rate could rise above 60%. Researchers at University of Lleida are hoping that the product could be manufactured at commercial scale in a year if companies show positive response for this technology. The prototype has been funded by CIDEM and has the support of the University of Lleida Technological Springboard.

Plastics That Convert Light To Electricity

We all are acquainted with the positive impact of alternative energy on our environment. Now researchers are trying to improve upon the existing alternative energy technology. As far as solar energy is concerned they are attempting to make solar panels inexpensive and people friendly. Generally the solar panels are quite bulky and challenging to fit in on existing architecture. Therefore scientists all over the world are concentrating on producing organic solar cells. They could be affordable and look like thin films.

Although the above concept seems so romantic on paper reality is always different. Researchers are facing a lot of hurdles to acquire a desired result. One major obstruction is to utilize these carbon-based materials to unfailingly form the appropriate structure at the nanoscale (tinier than 2-millionths of an inch). This way the structure would be highly efficient in converting light to electricity. They also want to utilize inexpensive plastics that would be able to convert ten percent sunlight that they absorb into usable electricity. Another aspect they are paying attention to is the manufacturing procedure which should be free of complicated steps.

David Ginger is an associate professor of chemistry at University of Washington. He is heading a research team which is working on a technique to make images of tiny bubbles and channels. They would be 10,000 times smaller than a human hair and would be implanted inside plastic solar cells. These bubbles and channels would be produced through a baking process known as annealing. It is believed that this procedure will help in improving the materials’ performance. They are also trying to monitor the amount of electricity produced by each bubble and channel. This way research will be able to pinpoint whether the material under particular condition will produce maximum electricity.

Plastic solar cells are manufactured by the amalgamation of two materials in a thin film. The next sensible step is to bake them to improve their performance. This baking will produce bubbles and channels as happens with a cake batter. The importance of the bubbles and channels lies in the effect that how well the cell turns light into electricity and how much of the electric current really gets to the wires leading out of the cell. Here several permutations and combinations can be tried to arrive at the conclusion that how much heat is applied and for how long to achieve a good output.

By now we know that the exact structure of the bubbles and channels is critical to the solar cell’s functioning. But one can’t ignore the combination of baking time, bubble size, channel connectivity and efficiency. Ginger is of the view that the polymer tested is not probable to reach the 10 percent efficiency threshold. But this will not be an exercise in vein. This will pave the path to show which new combinations of materials and at what baking time and temperature could form bubbles and channels in a way that the resulting polymer might meet the standard.

Presently researchers are eying to charge cell phones or mp3 players using plastic solar chargers. These solar cells can be put into a purse or backpack. But they are thinking of graduating to develop electricity on large scale.

Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future

The chances of producing solar power as a more commercially viable source of alternative energy seem brighter now with the positive research results pioneered by University of Illinois professors. The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, has been exploring ways to find more optimal ways to reduce the cost of semiconductors other than silicon.

Superiority of semiconductor gallium:

The semiconductor gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors are twice as effective as the standard silicon semiconductor. But the prohibitively high production price has been the staggering block which has been circumvented by the innovative processes used by this group. To boot, their techniques have been shown to be more appropriate cost-wise as well open a well of opportunities to utilize high-speed gallium or other semiconductors to make flexible thin-film electronics.

Multi-layer technique:

Instead of thin single-layer gallium arsenide situated on small wafers, the Illinois group tried to make ‘pancake’-like stacks of 10 layers deposited at one go and peel the layers off separately, transfer them and lay them side by side. Establishing all details of this routine, Professor Rogers, the Lee J. Flory Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation & Professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry said, “We’re creating bulk quantities of material, as opposed to just the thin single-layer manner in which it is typically grown…. “You really multiply the area coverage, and by a similar multiplier you reduce the cost, while at the same time eliminating the consumption of the wafer.”

Illinois team & research paper:

The Illinois team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, is planning to publish their research paper online on May 20, 2010, in the journal ‘Nature’. Along with the multi-layer process and other details of their research, they’ll demonstrate three types of devices – light sensors, high-speed transistors and solar cells which will use gallium arsenide chips.

The team as well includes University of Illinois post-doctoral researchers Jongseung Yoon, Sungjin Jo and Inhwa Jung; students Ik Su Chun and Hoon-Sik Kin; also Professor James Coleman of electrical and computer engineering, from Hanyang University in Seoul Ungyu Paik and Semprius Inc, scientists, Matthew Meitl and Etienne Menard.

Solar Energy History

The History of Solar Energy

A History over two thousand years old, solar energy has been a part of human life for a long time. Man has used solar power in its passive form to dry food and clothing and to warm homes for most of our history. The sun is the most potent and plentiful form of physical energy in our immediate existence. Of all the forces in the Universe the star is by far the most captivating and powerful. Our own star the “Sun” may be small by Universal standards but it is a giant star by our standards. So large that it accounts for over 99% of our solar systems mass and it’s power can be felt far past our own Earth orbit.

In just 40 minutes the amount of solar energy the sun emits that strikes the earth has the potential to power every electric outlet on the planet… for a year! Understanding the facts about our sun is a great way to understand solar energy. And understanding the history of solar energy development is a good place to begin. I hope you find the following informative and entertaining!

Humans learned how to harness solar energy in more sophisticated ways around 700 BC. Here’s the Solar Energy History timeline.

7th Century B.C.

Around 700 B.C. it was learned that a beam of sunshine targeted through a piece of glass could create enough heat energy to start a fire if the ray were focused onto something flammable.

3rd Century B.C.

By third century B.C., the Greeks and Romans were reflecting the sun’s rays from mirrors to ignite ceremony torches.

2nd Century B.C.

In the 2nd century BC, Archimedes, using copper shields, reflected a beam of sun onto an enemy wooden warship in the harbor and set it ablaze. Whether the story is true or false it has since been proved that it can indeed be done with the materials of that era.

For the next 1000 years man was contented to employ the power of the sun for the intentions of starting fires, passively heating abodes and drying out food and hides.

Over these early years in Solar Energy History, cultures learned to orient their dwellings and communities to face the sun (south) and exact fullest advantage of it’s heating energy. The low hanging sun would warm up the adobe brick or stone face of the building in winter and radiate it’s heat into the domicile well into the evening.

1st to 4th Century A.D.

1st to 4th Century Romans used passive solar to heat bathhouses. Glass windows facing the south allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate and warm the bathhouse, and then prevented it from escaping.

6th Century A.D.

Passive solar heating was becoming better understood and for the next several hundred years sun-rooms appeared on the south side of many Roman homes. The heat collected in the glass sun-room was allowed in to warm the home when the doors between the sun-room and home were opened.

1050 to 1300 A.D.

Around 1050 AD to 1300 is the period of the Anasazi cliff dwellings. Built in South facing cliffs with natural stone overhangs these communities were warmed in winter by the low hanging sun but the stone overhang provided much needed shade on hot summer days.

1700′s

1767 saw the first major solar discovery since the beginnings of solar energy harnessing.

Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure, in the mid 1700′s, fashioned the world’s first solar cooker.

Using a wooden box with a black cork bottom and placing three separate sheets of glass over it and finally insulating it, he was able to maintain an internal temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot enough to boil water and cook a meal!

Solar cookers of today closely resemble Saussure’s invention.

1800′s

By the 1800′s, discoveries were being made much faster. By the latter part of the century as little as three years would pass between discoveries.

Edmond Becquerel a French Scientist discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. He was the first to discover that light intensified the amount of electricity generated between two electrodes. His findings were considered interesting, but were not pursued.

From 1860′s to 1880′s

the first solar powered engines were produced and put to use.
Auguste Mouchout was the first man to patent a design for a motor running on solar energy. Receiving funds from the French monarch, he designed a device that turned solar energy into mechanical steam power and soon operated the first steam engine. He later connected the steam engine to a refrigeration device, illustrating that the sun’s rays can be utilized to make ice! He was awarded a medal for this.

His groundbreaking research was cut short though. The French renegotiated a cheaper deal with England for the supply of coal and improved their transportation system for the delivery thereof. Mouchout’s work towards finding an alternative was no longer considered a priority and he no longer received any funding from the monarch.

1873

Willoughby Smith experimented with the use of selenium solar cells after discovering it’s sensitivity to light while testing material for underwater telegraph cables.

1876

William Adams wrote the first book about Solar Energy called: A Substitute for Fuel in Tropical Countries. He and his student Richard Day experimented with the use of mirrors and were able to power a 2.5 horsepower steam engine. His design, know as the Power Tower concept, is still in use today.

1883

An American inventor Charles Fritz turned the sun’s rays into electricity. His selenium solar cell had a conversion rate of only 1-2%. But was another huge milestone in solar energy history!

1885

Charles Tellier, a Frenchman who is known as the father of refrigeration, experimented with a non-concentrating/ non-reflecting solar motor. He installed the first solar energy system for heating household water on top of his own roof. However, his desire to pursue his refrigeration interests led to him to abandon all solar energy experiments.

1868

John Ericsson, an American immigrant from Sweden wrote these powerful words: “A couple of thousand years dropped in the ocean of time will completely exhaust the coal fields of Europe, unless, in the meantime, the heat of the sun be employed.” He dismissed Mouchout’s work and also developed a solar powered steam engine, very similar in design to Mouchout’s.

1891

History saw the first commercial solar water heater patented by Clarence Kemp an inventor from Baltimore.

1892

Aubrey Eneas formed the first Solar Energy Company – The Solar Motor Co. They sold the first Solar Energy system to Dr. A.J. Chandler of Mesa, Ariz for $2,160. It was destroyed less than a week later by a windstorm. They sold a second one to John May, but that one too, was destroyed by a hailstorm shortly afterwards. This led to the company’s downfall.

1904

Henry Willsie recognized the need to store generated power and built 2 huge plants in California. He was the first to successfully use power at night after generating it during the day. Even so, he was not able to make a sale and his company too folded.

1906 – 1914

Frank Shuman’s company, Sun Power Co, built the largest and most cost-effective solar energy system covering 10,000 square feet plus. Although it produced a lot of steam it did not produce enough pressure. Together with E.P. Haines he then formed Sun Power Co. Ltd. They built an irrigation plant just outside of Cairo, but unfortunately it was destroyed during the Great War.

1954

Calvin Fuller, Gerald Pearson and Daryl Chaplin of Bell Laboratories accidentally discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor, which led to the construction of a solar panel with an efficiency rate of 6%.

1956

The first commercial solar cell was made available to the public at a very expensive $300 per watt.

1950s – 1960s

Space programs employed solar technologies. In 1958 the Vanguard I was launched. The first satellite to use solar energy.

1970

The Energy Crisis ! (OPEC oil embargo). A bit of solar energy history we are all familiar with. Suddenly it became important to find an alternative form of energy as we realized just how reliant we really are on non-renewable, finite resources like coal, oil and gas for our existence.

Solar energy history was made as the price of solar cells dropped dramatically to about $20 per watt.

1980 – 1991

A Los Angeles based company called Luz Co. produced 95% of the world’s solar-based electricity. They were forced to shut their doors after investors withdrew from the project as the price of non-renewable fossil fuels declined and the future of state and federal incentives was not likely.

The chairman of the board said it best: “The failure of the world’s largest solar electric company was not due to technological or business judgment failures but rather to failures of government regulatory bodies to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of solar thermal generating plants.”

Today

There is a renewed focus as more and more people see the advantages of solar energy and as it becomes more efficient and more affordable.

Governments across the world offer financial assistance and incentives.

Solar electric systems are now used to power many homes, businesses, getaways, and even villages in Africa.

We see solar cells powering anything from household appliances to cars.

Solar power as a movement is gaining popularity among the people as awareness of it’s great benefit to us is being spread.

Solar Power Cost

rooftop

How Much Your Residential Solar Power Will Cost

The cost of solar power for your home will depend on a number of different things. Where you live, how much power your household uses, whether you buy the panels new or used, how much sun your property receives, incentive programs available to you… etc, will all have an impact on the cost of solar power at any given location.

So just how much will it cost? Well a better question we should be asking ourselves is… What will it cost us if we do not invest in Solar Power? With the effects of Global Warming, pollution from fuels, and waste generated from power plants, we are effectively killing our most precious resource. If we do not begin to change the way we generate and use energy, we will no longer have a habitable earth to live on. We will be handing down a dead planet unable to sustain life to our children, where there will be no clean water to drink, no fresh air to breathe, or nutritious food to eat. It is time to join a movement that is for the prosperity of us all. A movement that needs your help, and all you need to do for it is save money while saving the earth.

The cost for residential solar energy generation varies greatly depending on several factors. Lets take a look at a few of them.

1. How much electricity do you need?

This should is the first question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to go 100% solar, or maybe you will want an integrated system that ties into the electrical grid to replace some of your electricity needs. The first step is to figure out how much electricity you use. Looking at your utility bill can do this. KWh or kilowatt-hour represents the usage of electricity. 1 Kilowatt-hour is equal to 1000 watts of electricity used in one hour. Lets use this example bill to show you how it is calculated.

This bill’s total kWh for the month is 460. So lets divide that by 30 to get a daily representation that will equate to 15.3 kWh a day of electrical usage. Now to get the wattage we need per day from our Solar Panels we will multiply our daily kWh by 1000 which gives us 15300 watts of usage a day.

460 kWh x .3 = 15.3 kWh x 1000 watts = 15,000 watts

Now that we have the total watts of electricity we need to generate a day we can work on the next factor.

 

2. How much sunshine do you get at your location?

This is actually easier then it sounds NASA has created the NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy site which will be able to give you all the information you need for this next step.
For the solar panel estimator select the Insolation Average, Min and Max, and the Radiation on Equator-pointed Tilted Surface parameters. Note the yearly average figures you find for your location. Insolation means the number of hours in a day that a solar panel will produce its rated voltage.

3. You will also need to know what size, or wattage of panels you wish to use.

Keep in mind when picking out panels that you’ll want to only use the same type and size. It is fact that panels with different electrical characteristics do not work together very well. There are many types and sizes what you want is really up to you. So just for this example we’ll go with a 175-watt solar panel. Note that a higher wattage does not mean the solar panel is of better quality.

4. Now you will have to adjust for inefficiencies in your system.
What I mean by this is that when we talk about energy coming through a system, we mean that energy courses through different devices in a chain IE: charge controller, inverter, batteries. Every step of the way loses us some energy, so we want to only put things in the chain that are absolutely necessary and are in good working order. There will always be some loss to the output level. It’s just the way it works. The only thing we can really do about it is to make sure our system is as efficient as possible. If you are thinking about buying a manufactured system this information should be available from them, otherwise figure between 50% – 70% efficiency. I’ll average for example and use an efficiency of 60%.

You may have noticed when you looked at the NASA site that insolation values can go up drastically for tilted panels, or positioning panels to face towards the sun. Because of this your annual average of Insolation can almost triple. So lets use a tilt of 45 degrees in our example.

So if we went for horizontal positioned panels we would need 39 panels at 175 watts each.

If we went with the 45-degree angle we would need 34 panels at 175 watts each.

Now you can shop around for better prices but the 175-watt panels we are using for this example are $580.00 each.

Horizontal: 39 x 580 = $22,620 USD.

45 Degree angle: 34 x 580 = $19,720 USD.

I realize this seems like a large up front investment however you are adding value to your house, also making it up with non existent energy bills, selling energy back to the utility company’s, and last but not least getting tax breaks and other incentives from the government. While buying manufactured panels and having them installed may be the easiest way to get solar energy flowing through your home, it is also by far the most expensive Solar power Cost.

Solar Power Information Solar Panel Cost

The solar revolution has been happening for the last 20 years and is now really moving fast. It has taken a long time for the technology to become affordable enough for everyday people to utilize. The best part is the technology is increasing at a rapid speed. Solar panels or photovoltaic cells as they are sometimes called (photo = light, voltaic = electricity) are what’s used to generate solar power from our Sun.

Unfortunately not much energy is created by one single solar cell, which means that lots of them are needed, drastically raising solar power cost. The biggest problem with solar power is in the price you must pay to buy systems and have them installed.

There are so many reasons to install solar power into your home that it makes no sense not to anymore. More and more benefits are being discovered everyday. The solar power cost of a residential home is dramatically reduced due to the fact that after the initial investment of installing solar panels, the energy created is 100% free. Older methods of energy creation that pollute the atmosphere like coal and nuclear technology are rising in price and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. You can even sell the solar energy to the utility company’s making you extra income. And with the benefit of the positive effects on the earth that comes with not needing to use negative forms of generating energy, you can feel good about what you’re doing. Solar panels are 100% environmentally friendly, no pollution at all!

Fortunately we are able to utilize solar power in easier and cheaper ways due to advancements in technology and techniques used to create more energy efficient, cheaper, and better looking solar panels. Luckily there are extremely easy ways to lower Solar Power Cost, and also have some fun by making your own solar panels. Doing it yourself can drastically lower the amount of money you’ll spend on your initial investment. I highly recommend trying it out, but be careful when purchasing a kit, they are not all perfect for any situation. You need to make sure you get what is right for you. If you would like more detailed information please visit Solar Power Cost to check out a kit I have used myself and know first hand that it works perfect in any situation.

The Bottom Line

You can reasonably expect to power your home completely with solar power, for $25,000 US dollars including the cost of new batteries. Once installed the system will save you ALL of your power expense for 35 to 40 years.

It may take a while but after a period of 10 to 15 years, the system will have paid for itself (in energy savings) and then it begins to put money back into your pocket for as long as 20 more years. And this is without any subsidies or tax incentives, or taking into account any parts you built or installed yourself. If you do most of the work yourself and take advantage of all the incentives and breaks you are looking at an investment below $10,000 USD.

So in closing thank you for visiting our Solar Power Cost page. New content and more Solar Energy Facts will be published regularly so please visit often, tell your friends, and bookmark us. Also if you would like to join the RSS feed and receive automatic updates whenever a new post is added click on the RSS icon at the bottom left corner of the page.

Solar Energy Facts

solar

General facts

  • Solar Energy production is better for the environment than conventional forms of energy production.
  • Solar energy has many uses other than electricity production. For instance heating of water with solar thermal energy, water treatment through solar distillation and chemical production through solar reaction.
  • Solar energy can be used to heat swimming pools, power cars, power phones, radios and other small appliances.
  • You can cook food with solar energy.
  • Solar Energy is becoming more popular each day. The world demand for Solar Energy is currently greater than the supply.

Facts about Solar Energy usage:

  • Solar Energy is measured in kilowatt-hour. 1 kilowatt = 1000 watts.
  • 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) = the amount of electricity required to power a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
  • According to the US Department of Energy, an average American household used approximately 888-kilowatt hours per month in 2009 costing them $94.26.
  • About 30% of our total energy consumption is used to heat water.

Facts about Solar Energy systems:

  • A typical home solar system is made up of solar panels, an inverter, a battery, a charge controller, wiring and support structure.
  • A 1-kilowatt home solar system takes about 1-2 days to install and costs around $10,000 USD, but can vary greatly and does not take into account any incentives offered by the government.
  • A 1-kilowatt home solar system consists of about 10-12 solar panels and requires about 100 square feet of installation area.
  • A 1-kilowatt home solar system will generate approximately 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a sunny climate (receiving 5.5 hours of sunshine per day) and approximately 750 kilowatt hours per year in a cloudy climate (receiving 2.5 hours of sunshine per day).
  • A 1-kilowatt home solar system will prevent approximately 170 lbs. of coal from being burned, 300 lbs of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere and 105 gallons of water from being consumed each month!
  • About 40 solar cells are usually combined into a solar panel and around 10-12 panels mounted in an array facing due North to receive maximum sunlight.
  • An average solar system usually comes with a 5-year warranty, although the solar panels are warranted for 20.
  • Relying on the battery back up, a solar energy system can provide electricity 24×7, even on cloudy days and at night.
  • Solar panels come in various colors.
  • Solar energy can be collected and stored in batteries, reflected, insulated, absorbed and transmitted.

Sun related Facts about Solar Energy:

  • Sunlight travels to the earth in approximately 8 minutes from 93,000,000 miles away, at 671,000,000 miles per hour.
  • Our sun is also the main source of non-renewable fossil fuels (coal, gas and petroleum), their energy was originally converted from sunlight by photosynthesis over millions of years.
  • Solar energy is responsible for weather patterns and ocean currents.
  • Clouds, pollution and wind can prevent the sun’s rays from reaching the earth.
  • The sun accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of our Solar System.
  • Sunlight on the surface of the Earth is attenuated by the Earth’s atmosphere so we receive only 1,000 watts per square meter of its power in clear conditions.

Other Interesting Facts about Solar Energy:

  • In one hour more sunlight falls on the earth than what is used by the entire population in one year.
  • A world record was set in 1990 when a solar powered aircraft flew 2522 miles across the United States, using no fuel.
  • Fierce weather cost the world a record $130 Billion in the first eleven months of 1998- more money than was lost from weather related disasters from 1980 to 1990 ($82 Billion).
  • Researchers from the Worldwatch Institute and Munich Re blame deforestation and climate change from Earth warming for much of the loss. The previous one-year record was $90 Billion in 1996. Source – Associated Press, November 28,1998.
  • About 2 billion people in the world are currently without electricity.
  • Accounting for only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world’s energy.
  • Electric ovens consume the most amount of electricity, followed by microwaves and central air conditioning.
  • Third world countries with an abundance of sunlight and a population currently without electricity, represents the fastest growing market for solar energy, with the largest domestic market being the utilities sector.
  • Shell Oil predicts that 50% of the world’s energy will come from renewable sources by 2040.

Carbon-based Solar Cells

Solar panels need silicon for absorption of light. Silicon does not come cheap.This cost-factor is keeping people from using solar energy on a large scale. Scientists utilize another substance i.e. ruthenium for solar cells. Rutheniumcan is cheaper than silicon but ruthenium is a rare metal on Earth. It’s as rare as platinum. Of course it can not be obtainable for mass production. Compared to silicon, carbon is cheap and plentiful. The graphene, another form of carbon, is capable of absorbing a wide range of light frequencies.

Graphene is a single sheet of carbon, one atom thick. Graphene has potential to be utilized as an effective, less toxic and cheaper than other alternatives for solar cells. Chemists at Indiana University Bloomington are attempting to come up with a more effective alternative than silicon. If successful, this can be a path breaking breakthrough.

Other people as well took this initiative of using carbon sheets for solar power. But they encountered some hurdles. They used the graphene form of carbon for solar cells. Grephene is akin to graphite used in pencil lead. Graphene absorbs a wide range of light frequencies. Scientists have found large sheets of graphene to be overly unmanageable to work with. Large sheets are sticky and get bonded with other sheets. Now Indiana University Bloomington researchers are trying to deal with this problem. They’re trying to produce non-sticky graphene sheets that are stable. They’re putting their efforts on “attaching a semi-rigid, semi-flexible, three-dimensional sidegroup to the sides of the graphene.” They know how to derive energy from carbon. Now chemists from Indiana University Bloomington are graduating to the following logical step i.e. conversion of that energy into electricity. If everything will turn out alright then carbon can be an alternative to expensive silicon and ruthenium, which is as rare as platinum.

Chemists and engineers kept on trying to work out a solution for the stickiness of graphene. They got up many methods for keeping single graphene sheets separate. Until now the most effective solution prior to the Indiana University Bloomington scientists’ experiment has been breaking up graphite (top-down) into sheets and wrap polymers around them. But this method has its own disadvantage. Those graphene sheets are too large for light absorption for solar cells. Indiana University chemists devised a entirely new method for carbon sheets. They utilized a 3-D bramble patch between the carbon sheets. This process helped the scientists to dissolve sheets containing as many as 168 carbon atoms. They are successful in making the graphene sheets from smaller molecules (bottom-up) so that they are uniform in size. Until now, it’s the biggest stable graphene sheet ever made with the bottom-up approach. Chemist Liang-shi Li, who led the research, tells us, “Our interest stems from wanting to find an alternative, readily available material that can efficiently absorb sunlight. At the moment the most common materials for absorbing light in solar cells are silicon and compounds containing ruthenium. Each has disadvantages.”

Li is of the opinion, “Harvesting energy from the sun is a prerequisite step. How to turn the energy into electricity is the next. We think we have a good start.” Other members of the project team are Ph D students Xin Yan and Xiao Cui and postdoctoral fellow Binsong Li. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.