Solar power (also known as solar energy) is a source of energy that uses radiation emitted by the Sun. It is a renewable energy source that has been used in many traditional technologies for centuries. It is also in widespread use where other power supplies are absent, such as in remote locations and in space.

Solar radiation reaches the Earth's upper atmosphere at a rate of 1366 watts per square meter (W/m2).[1] The first map shows how the solar energy varies in different latitudes. While traveling through the atmosphere, 6% of the incoming solar radiation (insolation) is reflected and 16% is absorbed resulting in a peak irradiance at the equator of 1,020 W/m².[2] Average atmospheric conditions (clouds, dust, pollutants) further reduce insolation by 20% through reflection and 3% through absorption.[3] Atmospheric conditions not only reduce the quantity of insolation reaching the Earth's surface but also affect the quality of insolation by diffusing incoming light and altering its spectrum

Solar cells, also referred to as photovoltaic cells, are devices or banks of devices that use the photovoltaic effect of semiconductors to generate electricity directly from sunlight. Until recently, their use has been limited because of high manufacturing costs. One cost effective use has been in very low-power devices such as calculators with LCDs. Another use has been in remote applications such as roadside emergency telephones, remote sensing, cathodic protection of pipe lines, and limited "off grid" home power applications. A third use has been in powering orbiting satellites and spacecraft. To take advantage of the incoming electromagnetic radiation from the sun, solar panels can be attached to each house or building. The panels should be mounted perpendicular to the arc of the sun to maximize usefulness. The easiest way to use this electricity is by connecting the solar panels to a grid tie inverter. However, these solar panels may also be used to charge batteries or other energy storage device. Solar panels produce more power during summer months because they receive more sunlight. The cost payback time may take over 10 years depending on the cost of grid electricity and tax rebates. Total peak power of installed PV is around 3,700 MW as of the end of 2005.[19] This is only one part of solar-generated electric power.

Declining manufacturing costs (dropping at 3 to 5% a year in recent years) are expanding the range of cost-effective uses. The average lowest retail cost of a large photovoltaic array declined from $7.50 to $4 per watt between 1990 and 2005.[20] With many jurisdictions now giving tax and rebate incentives, solar electric power can now pay for itself in five to ten years in many places. "Grid-connected" systems - those systems that use an inverter to connect to the utility grid instead of relying on batteries - now make up the largest part of the market. In 2003, worldwide production of solar cells increased by 32%.[21] Between 2000 and 2004, the increase in worldwide solar energy capacity was an annualized 60%.[22] 2005 was expected to see large growth again, but shortages of refined silicon have been hampering production worldwide since late 2004.[23] Analysts have predicted similar supply problems for 2006 and 2007.[

Kyocera headquarters. PV cells on the side of the building generate electricity from sunlight.

USES OF PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS :USES OF PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS :1. PV for Cottages and Residences In general, PV systems are an economical option for remote cottages and residences. In most remote areas, it is impossible to connect to the electrical grid and, in many cases, expensive fossil fuel is brought in to generate electricity. If your residence is tied to the existing grid, PV will give you the autonomous source of electricity you might need during a power outage. 3. PV for Mobile and Recreational Applications Recreational vehicles, boats and expeditions can also benefit from the clean and quiet operation of portable PV systems to recharge batteries. 2. PV in Agriculture PV systems are used effectively worldwide to pump water for livestock, plants or humans. Since the need for water is greatest on hot sunny days, PV is a perfect fit for pumping applications. PV is also used to power remote electric fences on farms. 4. PV for Other Applications PV systems can be adapted to suit any requirement, small or large. For instance, PV cells are used in calculators and watches. As well, telecommunications equipment, highway construction signs, parking lights and navigational warning signals are excellent applications for PV



SunPower Corporation a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, on Juliy 27th announced the inauguration of its second solar cell fabrication facility, known as "cell Fab 2", in the Philippines. The dedication of cell Fab 2 will take place on July 30st, 2007 at the new plant, located in Batangas, south of Manila. President Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines and The Honorable Raphael P. M. Lotilla, secretary of energy, will be on hand to help inaugurate the facility which has been recognized by the International Energy Agency for its superior energy-efficient design.
Solar PV System with panels by SunPower, located at Geneva (Switzerland). Courtesy: SunPower Corporation

Since the beginning of 2007 photovoltaic records are going from strength to strength: in Brandis near Leipzig (Germany) the world’s largest solar power plant with an output of 40 Megawatt is being built and will be commissioned by 2009, in the Spanish town of Beneixama City Solar AG is working on a 20 MW photovoltaic system that is to be completed in October 2007. These are both ground mounted systems, such as the power plants of "Solarpark Gut Erlasee" (Germany, 12 MW), "Serpa PV Power Plant" in Portugal (11 MW) and the German Solar Park "Pocking" (10MW). International demand for German photovoltaics is on the rise and export figures of manufacturers are continuously increasing. Executive German companies are becoming active abroad and are building large-scale open-space systems in Spain, Greece and even as far afield as Africa.
Solar-Report as PDF-Dokument

,1 MW solar roof of Sharp production site in Kameyama (Japan); solar power system integrated into a roof in Muggensturm near Rastatt (Germany). Sources: Sharp, Tauber Solar

3D solar cells to boost efficiency while reducing size, weight and complexity of photovoltaic arrays Unique three-dimensional solar cells shall capture nearly all of the light that strikes them and could boost the efficiency of photovoltaic (PV) systems while reducing their size, weight and mechanical complexity. The new 3D solar cells capture photons from sunlight using an array of miniature "tower" structures that resemble high-rise buildings in a city street grid, the Georgia Institute of Technology (GTRI) reports in a press release. The cells could find near-term applications for powering spacecraft, and by enabling efficiency improvements in photovoltaic coating materials, could also change the way solar cells are designed for a broad range of applications. "Our goal is to harvest every last photon that is available to our cells", said Jud Ready, a senior research engineer in the Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory at the GTRI. "By capturing more of the light in our 3D structures, we can use much smaller photovoltaic arrays. On a satellite or other spacecraft, that would mean less weight and less space taken up with the PV system", he adds.

Jud Ready, senior research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, observes a process that applies an iron catalyst as part of the fabrication of 3D solar cells.
Picture Source: GTRI.The 3D design was described in the March 2007 issue of the journal JOM, published by The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society.

The research has been sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the

Air Force Research Laboratory, NewCyte Inc., and Intellectual Property Partners, LLC. A global patent application has been filed for the technology. The GTRI photovoltaic cells trap light between their tower structures, which are about 100 microns tall, 40 microns by 40 microns square, 10 microns apart - and built from arrays containing millions of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes

Advantages: Advantages:
Solar power is pollution free during use. Production end wastes and emissions are manageable using existing pollution controls. End-of-use Solar power is pollution free during use. Production end wastes [42] recycling technologies are under development. and emissions are manageable using existing pollution controls. [42] Facilities can operate with technologies little maintenance or intervention after initial End-of-use recycling are under development. setup. Facilities can operate with little maintenance or intervention initial setup. is economically competitive where grid Solar after electric generation connection Solar or electric fuel transport generation is difficult, is economically costly orcompetitive impossible. where Examples grid include connection satellites, island or fuel communities, transport is difficult, remote locations costly or and impossible. ocean vessels. Examples include satellites, island communities, remote The 89 petawatts of sunlight reaching the earth's surface is plentiful locations and ocean vessels. compared to the 15 terawatts of average power consumed by humans.[41] The 89 petawatts sunlight reaching the earth's surface is (global Additionally, solar electricof generation has the highest power density plentiful compared torenewable the 15 terawatts of[41] average power 2) among mean of 170 W/m energies. consumed by humans.[41] Additionally, solar electric generation has the highest power density (global mean of 170 W/m2) among renewable energies.[41]

Availability of solar energy Availability of solar energy
The amount of solar energy intercepted by the Earth every minute is greater than the amount of energy the world uses in fossil fuels each year.[48] Tropical oceans absorb 560 trillion gigajoules (GJ) of solar energy each year, equivalent to 1,600 times the world’s annual energy use.[49] The energy in the winds that blow across the United States each year could produce more than 16 billion GJ of electricity—more than one and one-half times the electricity consumed in the United States in 2000.[50] Annual photosynthesis by the vegetation in the United States is 50 billion GJ, equivalent to nearly 60% of the nation’s annual fossil fuel use.[51]


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful