Some people have the mistaken impression that it is too cold in the UK for solar energy production on a large scale. They assume that it only really works in hot places that get a lot of Sun, like Spain or Asia. In fact, however, solar energy production can be very effective in the UK as well, and here are the top five ways that you can tell.
Solar Panels Operate in Majority of Weather Conditions – Although, naturally, the hotter the sun the more electricity solar cells will be able to generate, they operate perfectly well in the majority of weather conditions. There can be all over cloud cover and it will still work. If you don’t believe it, get a solar powered pocket calculator and take it outside when it’s cloudy. It will still work, and that is with very small solar cells collecting the energy. In fact just about the only conditions they will not work in is darkness, and the UK gets as much sunlight in the year as anywhere else. Less in the winter of course, but that is made up for in the summer with more hours of sunlight.
Increased Solar Energy Uptake – Another sign that the UK can make ample use of solar energy is that it is. In recent months, more and more people are having solar panels installed on their roofs. Granted, much of this is due to the feed-in tariff. However, that provides money for electricity which is produced by the solar cells, so it would not be profitable if not much was being created.
Global Warming – At this stage, there is little that can be done about the warming which we are going to experience in the coming years. This means that we are likely going to have a warmer climate in any case. Summers will be hotter, making your solar panels really buzz, and winters may well be cooler as well. Of course if enough people start making use of solar energy, then the worst consequences of global warming should be avoided.
Cornwall – Not all of the UK receives as little sunlight as everywhere else, in fact Cornwall gets quite a bit. This has therefore been a very popular location for solar energy production, with a solar power station in the process of being built.
If Russia Can Do It, Why Can’t We? – Everyone would agree that Russia has worse weather conditions for solar energy than the UK, and yet they too are getting behind it. In fact a solar energy plant is due to be opened in 2011, with solar panels which collect energy from both sides. So if it’s going to work in Russia, then certainly it can in the UK as well.
These are the top 5 signs that it is not too cold for solar energy production in the UK. If there were one more reason however, then it would be innovation. There is plenty of research being done into solar cells making them more efficient, making solar energy all the more viable for climates such as ours.
Football fans in England were disappointed by the decision last week not to hold the World Cup here in 2018. But football fans around the world were surprised by the decision to hold it in Qatar in 2022. This will be the first time that the World Cup has been hosted by a Middle Eastern country. One of the major concerns is that it will simply be too hot for the players and fans. However Qatar has sought to ease these worries by ensuring that their stadiums will all be air conditioned, even the open air ones. What’s more, the air conditioning will be powered with solar energy – meaning, ironically, that it will be the sun itself which will be keeping everyone cool.
Air conditioning is notorious for being a big energy guzzler. In the UK this is not much of a problem, mostly because it is rarely hot enough for air conditioning to be necessary. Even when it is however, we don’t get the scorching heats that other countries do so the energy consumption isn’t so bad. The greater the difference between the heat outside and the desired cooling inside, the more energy is needed to achieve it. This is why it will be so beneficial to be able to cool an area as large as a stadium, in a place as hot as Qatar, without needing to burn fossil fuels.
The way they will set it up will be with canopies that cover service areas and parking lots. These canopies will have solar cells on top of them, providing a large area for them, and therefore allowing a lot of solar energy to be produced. Also, the solar energy will not go to waste when there are no matches being played. When the stadium itself does not need all the solar energy which will be generated, it will be fed back into the national grid. The Qatar 2022 stadiums will therefore work as a little grid of solar power stations, providing electricity for the whole country.
Of course this is much the same as the feed-in tariff works in the UK. The solar cells you install on your roof save you money on energy bills, and then any of the solar energy which you do not use is fed back into the national system, and you are paid for this energy generation. This is what makes owning solar cells at the moment such a profitable exercise, as well as being very good for the environment of course.
This form of energy production for Qatar 2022 stadiums is also a good sign for the solar energy market as a whole. It goes to show that it is becoming a more and more viable option, even for large energy requirements. Of course we will have to wait to see how well it is going to work, but assuming everything goes to plan, it would show that there are very few places that would not be able to be powered with solar energy. Meaning that the grip fossil fuels have on us could well be over in the future, with solar energy taking up a large portion of the slack.
A research project taking place in Welsh universities could see the development of PV (photovoltaic) cells which are more efficient and cheaper. This will enable them to work better in less sunny climates such as Wales and the rest of the UK. The result will be that it will be an even more viable prospect to have solar panels installed on your roof.
There has been a large increase in the uptake of solar cells over the last year, mostly down to the government’s feed-in tariff being introduced. This provides a powerful financial incentive for people to have solar panels installed, and it is still available for everyone to take advantage of today. The scheme works by the government paying for all of the energy which you produce with your solar panels and subsequently feed back in to the national electricity grid. This all happens automatically of course, once the system has been set up. After the initial installation therefore, solar cells are an instant money generator. Not only through the feed-in tariff of course, also through the savings which you will be making on your electricity bill.
Anything which can be done to create more efficient solar cells will of course be of even greater advantage to the user, and will encourage more and more people to get involved with solar energy. At the time of writing, much of the UK is covered in snow, a stark reminder that this is not the warmest of climates. That is why it is also important to develop solar cells which work well in cloudy conditions as well as in the full heat of summer. Which is exactly what the researchers from the universities at Bangor, Swansea and Wrexham will also be trying to do with their £4.4 million project.
If successful, and every indications says that they will be, then it will obviously be a massive boon for the whole of the UK. However it is a three year project, so if you are in a position to purchase solar panels at the present time, or will be in the near future, it is still best to get involved straight away. By the time cheaper solar cells come out, it is likely that the feed-in tariff will have at least had its rates reduced. It’s due to come up for review again in 2012, and indications at the moment are that the rate will be lowered due to the popularity of the scheme.
So the answer to the question is yes, more efficient solar cells are on the horizon. They will likely produce more electricity in worse conditions, however well functioning solar cells are already here. So there’s no need to be running towards the horizon, you can get what you need right now. And what’s more, having solar energy is likely never to be so profitable financially as it is right now. And if you like, you could always use that extra money to put in a kitty to buy new, more efficient solar cells in the future.
When talking about solar energy, there are two different things that we might mean. In a general sense, solar energy is energy that comes from the sun, which is ultimately responsible for all of the life on the planet. The other sort of solar energy is the electricity which is produced when the suns rays hit photovoltaic cells, or the heat produced when solar thermal panels are involved. It is this second kind that we are interested in here.
Combating Global Warming
Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect. Actually, at the right level this is a good thing. Without it, the heat coming from the sun would just bounce off the planet and there wouldn’t be enough heat for life to survive. However, with too much the planet’s temperature rises beyond a tolerable level leading to a wide range of adverse effects. The theory goes that the reason that the greenhouse effect has increased in recent times is that humans have been pumping greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, the more energy we can produce through clean, renewable energy sources the less fossil fuels we will have to use, and so the less will be added to the natural global warming effect.
This is one of the main reasons that solar energy is so important in generating power. It does not release any unfavourable gases into the atmosphere, and so helps to maintain the planet in its ideal state for future generations. Governments around the world have recognised this fact, which is why they have been encouraging the growth of renewable energy. In the UK, a feed-in tariff is available for anyone who has solar cells installed on their roof and feeds electricity into the national grid. This provides a strong financial incentive to take up solar energy, and has led to many more people getting solar panels for their roofs, as well as encouraging energy firms to build large solar arrays to act as power stations.
Why Solar Energy?
Of all the renewable energy sources available, from wind to geothermal, what makes solar energy special? Or is it special?
Well, it is the most popular type of renewable energy. There are many reasons for this. One is that it is versatile. It is available on a very small scale and very large. Solar energy can power calculators and watches, can power single homes or, in the form of solar farms, hundreds or even thousands of homes. No other source of renewable energy is scalable to that degree.
Also, solar energy is silent and doesn’t cause blots on the landscape. In fact the only reason that it is not in wider use today are the initial costs of setting it up in the first place. But with long term financial gain now available, many people are seeing past this.
Perhaps the best thing about solar energy is it allows individuals to be proactive in protecting their environment. This makes it very important for everyone who can do so to invest in solar energy.