You will find a lot of information on this site about how solar panels work, but here you will get a little bit more detail. Even if you’re just interested in the general way in which they work though, this piece will also explain that as well.
The general idea, of course, is that light from the sun (or any other source) is converted in to electricity. If you are just interesting in getting a solar installation then you don’t really need to know any more than that. However it is an interesting topic, so it’s worth learning about.
Before we can go in to more detail than that though, you have to know a little more about electricity and light. These are things you might already be aware of, but some people won’t be.
First of all, electricity comes from the flow of electrons, which are negatively charged particles which orbit the nucleus of an atom. Only certain substances conduct electricity of course, metal being a good example. However there are also things called semiconductors, and one of the properties that they have is that when light hits them, it frees electrons and allows them to flow. It should be no surprise, then, that solar cells are made out of semiconductors.
Now when it comes to light, although it is discussed on many occasions in terms of being made up of light waves, it can also be referred to in terms of being made up of particles called photons. The reason that’s important here is that one photon tends to knock one electron out of orbit in a semiconductor, which is how the electricity is generated.
How Solar Cells Work
Solar cells come in two halves. One of which is negatively charged (n-type) and the other is positively charged (p-type). When there is no light hitting them they are in balance. However when photons hit, and electrons are displaced from the negative side into the positive side, there is an imbalance. In order for this imbalance to be corrected, electrons have to flow a long a wire which has been hooked up to it.
This is where the electricity comes from. However in that form it is still direct current (DC) and it has to be turned in to alternating current (AC) in order to to useful in your home. That is done with an inverter, which comes as standard with a solar installation.
Other things you will get with a solar installation include a DC battery and a post-generation meter to monitor how much energy is being produced.
Of course it can be interesting to see all of the energy that is being produced, but most importantly it allows your energy company to monitor how much is being produced. That way they will know how much to pay you with the feed in tariff rates. This is something that you can get when you get an installation from MCS accredited solar installers like the ones supplied by Solar Energy UK.
Solar Energy UK
For more information, or to get a free quote on a solar installation, call our free phone number.
There are two ways you can save with solar energy. For one, you can save money by lowering your energy bills. You can also make money with the feed in tariff now. However the other way that you save, is that you help to save the planet.
After you have got your solar installation you will be in for 25 years at least of free energy. So all the money that you would have had to pay on energy bills will now be saved. This is the traditional way in which you could always save money, and you still can. However there was a problem that the installation was so expensive, and with the savings relatively minor, that it took around 25 years for you to just pay off the installation costs.
Now it’s different though. There is now a feed in tariff in place, which is a scheme set up by the government whereby you get paid for the solar energy that you produce. There is no exchange there, you don’t have to give up the energy that you produce in order to get paid for it. You get paid for what you produce and use. Although having said that there is also an opportunity to make more money by selling the energy that you don’t use back to your conventional energy supplier.
Precise figures cannot be given of course, but at the moment it is normal for people with an average sized installation to get around £1,000 a year. This allows them to pay off their installation costs and start actually making money after about 8 years.
Saving The Earth
The other way in which solar energy allows you to save is by saving the Earth. That’s because for all of the energy that you produce with solar panels, that is energy which does not have to be produced through burning fossil fuels. Naturally then, carbon emissions come down, you will be cutting your carbon footprint.
By now everyone knows the reason this is so important. It’s because many scientists claim that global warming is caused by the carbon dioxide that we release in to the atmosphere, and if this warming continues then the results could be catastrophic. It could go beyond sea level rises, which are problematic in themselves; if the ecosystems are affected we may not be able to feed ourselves anymore.
It is therefore not only profitable, but very important that as many people as possible get involved with solar energy. All it will take to turn the tides are decisions by lots of individuals to switch to renewable energy, and then we can get off fossil fuels for good.
Solar Energy UK
Solar Energy UK is all about helping our customers save. Not just save money, but save the Earth as well, as is our motto. If you are interested in either of these things then a solar installation might be just what you need. Call us now for a free quote on getting solar panels installed and for more information.
With the feed in tariff making solar energy more profitable, there is a debate going on as to whether it is more important to leave large areas of green fields as they are, or whether solar panels should be allowed there instead. Indeed, this is the debate going on for a specific area in Essex where there is a proposal for a large solar site, the size of 20 football fields.
The Case For Solar Energy
The would-be developer looked at other solar sites, such as the one that opened recently in Cornwall, and decided that they wanted to build one of their own. The proposed site is on Netherhouse Farm, which is near to Waltham Abbey. In terms of the amount of energy that it could produce, it should be enough to power 2,000 homes making it a very large array.
The developer has to think about the profit end of it of course, without which the project would not be viable. In terms of the large societal and environmental impacts though, it would be positive in the sense that it will reduce the demand for fossil fuels. If the predictions which scientists have made about global warming are correct, then this is a very important issue.
The Case For Green Fields
There is opposition to the project however. This comes from The Corporation of London, which is the owner of Epping Forest which borders the proposed site. They claim that it would be an eyesore and also that wildlife would be damaged.
There are lanes which run right by the proposed site so anyone who was walking along them would have their views of green fields ruined. Also, there are certain birds there which are rare in the area and there is a claim that these would be affected as well. These include the skylark and barn owl.
The developer has responded to these claims, saying that the site will be in a valley where no one will be able to see the solar panels. They also claim that, as the metal frames holding the cells will be held off the ground, wildlife will not be affected at all.
If we accept, therefore, that the wildlife will in fact not be affected then it comes down to a straight fight between whether it’s more important to have a nice view or to have increased solar energy production.
Of course the value of a pleasant view should not be underestimated, this is one of the things that makes the character of the country. However, in opposition to the idea that global warming could make the planet uninhabitable it does not hold up very well. After all, it’s not much good having a nice view if there is no one left to enjoy it.
The decision as to whether to let the proposed development go ahead will come down to the district council. They are going to have to decide, therefore, whether green fields or solar energy is more important.
Solar Energy UK Renewables
Fortunately, if you want solar panels for your home, it’s unlikely that you’re going to need planning permission. If that is something that you are interested in then you can get a free quote for a solar installation by calling Solar Energy UK Renewables on our freephone number.
Leeds Council is going to consider this week installing solar panels on public buildings across the city. By doing so, they will be hoping to not only cut carbon emissions but also to save money on energy. And even to make money in the long term by using the Feed in Tariff, which applies to the solar energy created through PV solar panels.
Cutting Carbon Emissions
The government has an ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions across the country by 40% by 2020. In order for this to happen of course, it is going to be necessary for every area across the country to do its bit. This will rely on the uptake of solar energy by private individuals, commercial businesses and of course public bodies as well.
The theory is quite simple. The more energy you get through renewable means, the less you are going to require from conventional, polluting sources. To cut carbon emissions by 40% then, it means that we are going to have to use that much in renewable energy instead.
In order to have this work done, Leeds Council is going to have to take out a loan for £3m, so that they can afford the solar panels. However, this money should be paid back within 10-12 years by their estimates.
Feed In Tariff
What makes all of this possible, making solar energy financially viable and therefore worth making an investment in, is the feed in tariff. The way it works is that for every unit of energy produced, you get a certain amount of money, paid by your energy supplier. In addition, you can get extra for exporting the electricity you do not use on to the National Grid. So you’re paid for the energy you make, whether you use it or not.
At the moment the highest rate that you can get is 43.3p per kWh, and for an average residential solar installation this translates to about £1,000 a year. Of course the larger your system, the more money you are going to make, so although it will be more expensive you’ll still be making your money back in the same amount of time.
After you have passed the point that you have received more money than you paid for the system of course, you are in to profit territory. Then it really pays to have as large a system as possible because all of the money you will be getting then will be extra, and it is also all tax free.
Rising Energy Prices
What makes solar power even more valuable is the fact that conventional energy prices are rising all of the time. This means that you will be saving an increasing amount by getting your energy for free with solar energy.
Solar Energy UK Renewables
If you are interested in making use of the feed in tariff, and helping to cut the country’s carbon emissions, then you can contact Solar Energy UK Renewables for a free quote on a solar installation. By using our MCS accredited solar installers you will automatically be eligible for the feed in tariff.
A farm in Herefordshire has installed the largest private array of solar panels on its roof, which will provide 55% of its energy needs from solar energy. Although the cost for the solar system, comprised of 1,600 panels covering 2,000 square meters, exceeded £800,000 they expect to get their money back within 10 years.
Making Money With Solar Energy
Before the feed in tariff was introduced, the only way to make money with solar energy was through the savings made on electricity bills, which although quite substantial tended to make breaking even take about as long as solar panels usually last for. That is, about 25 years.
With the feed in tariff, however, which was introduced by the government in April last year, it takes less than half that time to break even. After that you will usually have about 15 years of profiting from the investment, which makes for a great return.
In general then it is best to get the largest installation that you can afford because it will take about the same amount of time to recoup your money (as you will be generating more energy of course) and after that you’ll be making a larger return on your investment.
Why Solar Energy?
The farmers in question, who had the large array installed on their roof, were initially considering getting a wind turbine instead. The feed in tariff is also applicable to wind energy, however there were a couple of reasons that they decided to go with solar panels instead.
First of all, when they applied for planning permission, their neighbours strongly objected to having a wind turbine on the farm. It is felt that they ruin the look of a landscape and there is also an issue of noise pollution. Getting planning permission for solar cells is a lot easier, in fact in many cases it is not necessary to even apply.
The second reason they went for solar panels instead was that it was a good investment, and they considered that they could get a good financial return.
Why Renewable Energy Is Important
The farmers are not the only ones that are going to benefit from this installation however. The reason that the feed in tariff was introduced in the first place, making solar energy more financially viable, was because it was recognised that renewable energy is important to the environment. With many scientists predicting catastrophic results from global warming, switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy has to be taken very seriously.
To some extent this switch is going to rely on large scale energy production by renewable energy companies. That means we need more solar energy plants, wind farms, and all other forms of renewable energy. The great thing about solar panels though is that you don’t need any special conditions, almost anyone with a house will have a suitable roof to have them installed on. That means private individuals, businesses and farms can get involved with helping to save the planet from climate change.
Solar Energy UK Renewables
If you would like to get involved with solar energy yourself, at Solar Energy UK Renewables we provide MCS accredited solar installers for a fast and reliable solar installation that will also qualify you for the feed in tariff.
When you start looking in detail at solar energy you will soon come across a difference in terms of whether the panels are MONO or POLY. These terms are confusing at first as often they are not explained and there is an implied knowledge about them that beginners won’t have of course. So we’re going to look at what they are and what the differences are between them here.
What Are “Mono” and “Poly” Solar Modules?
As you’ve probably guessed, these two terms are shorthand for longer words. They are monocrystalline and polycrystalline which, if you’re new to this, probably raises more questions than it answers. What are these crystals about?
To begin to understand this then, the first thing to know is that solar cells are made out of silicon, a semi-conductive crystal. When a solar panel is said to be “monocrystalline” then, it means that it is cut out of a single crystal. When it is “polycrystalline” it means that there are lots of different crystals fused together.
Upon first hearing this it would probably seem as if it would be easier to manufacture them just out of a single crystal, but actually that is not the case. It’s actually easier to make poly solar cells, but you do get some advantages out of mono cells.
Advantages And Disadvantages
Traditionally speaking, mono panels are said to be more difficult to construct (and therefore more expensive) but what you get is a higher efficiency. So if you wanted to go for a cheaper option, accepting less efficiency, you would go for a poly.
By now, however, with improved construction techniques there is actually very little difference between them. Mono’s do still tend to be a little more expensive and a little more efficient, but poly’s are no longer that much less expensive, or that much less efficient.
Amorphous Solar Panels
There is actually another way of producing solar energy though, a different type of solar panel, although it is not used very much because it is significantly less efficient. This is the amorphous, or “thin-film” solar technology. One of its biggest advantages, however, is that it does continue to retain much of its performance in hotter temperatures.
When crystal silicon gets hot, the molecules start to vibrate more and this messes up the whole system of electricity production to some extent. The amorphous technology though, while still using silicon, does not use its crystalline form and so responds better to heat.
Sanyo HIT Panels
The innovative Sanyo HIT panels, however, have managed to combine the best of both worlds. They are mostly made of up crystal silicon, as usual, but that is sandwiched by the amorphous technology. As most of the heat will be absorbed on the surface, and that is where the thin layer of the amorphous solar cell is, this makes for a much more efficient solar panel.
Solar Energy UK Renewables
You can learn more about the solar panels that are available by calling Solar Energy UK Renewables, our expert and friendly staff are available to answer any of your questions. We will also be able to arrange for a free quote for a solar installation by our MCS accredited solar installers.
Nearly a year ago, back in August 2010, we commented on a solar energy plant that was to be built on the site of a former tin mine in Cornwall. At the time it was in the planning permission stage, but now it is finally operational. The original article was titled, “UK’s First Ground-Mounted Solar Power Station to be Built in Cornwall”.
What Can The Solar Energy Farm Do?
Now that it is no longer theoretical, we’re going to look at the capabilities of this new site. Here are some of its main features:
It has around 5,700 solar panels
It will provide enough energy for an estimated 400 homes
It will generate 1.4 Megawatts of electricity each year
It is spread over a 7 acre site
It cost £4 million
This is clearly a massive investment in solar energy then, and a boost not only for the green economy but for the aim of reducing carbon emissions significantly in the UK by 2020.
In addition to the solar power that is going to be generated, there are also plans for a wind turbine, a biomass plant and a geothermal plant, which would make use of the tin mine on the site. These are the sorts of sites that we need more of in the UK, but one of the developers is unhappy with the government’s recent stance regarding large scale renewable energy production.
What’s Changed In The Last Year?
When the site was first being proposed, the government’s lucrative feed in tariff scheme was available across the board, for domestic or commercial use. Recently, however, the government has announced a cap on the feed in tariff for any facility which produces more that 50kW a year. This means that the expected boom in solar power plants in Cornwall, and the rest of the country, is unlikely to take place now.
The reason that the government has done this is so that the funds available for the feed in tariff are not all gobbled up by solar companies that are looking to profit from the scheme. Instead, the government wants domestic users to have a change to take advantage of the financial incentive. So while this is good for the people who want to get solar panels on their roof, it would require 400 households to get solar panels for every one of these solar plants that are constructed. In terms of reaching the emissions targets therefore, it is a somewhat questionable policy.
It’s never been more important to get involved with solar energy to help to save the environment from the effects of global warming. As the feed in tariff is being directed specifically at households, it is particularly important that as many people that can make use of it. Whether you are concerned about global warming or not, the feed in tariff makes getting solar panels a very good investment anyway.
If you are interested in having a solar installation of solar cells, the solar installers at Solar Energy UK provide a fast and reliable installation, and as they are MCS accredited you will be able to take advantage of all the government’s financial incentives.