Energy = power x time Solar photovoltaic systems are a well-proven technology first invented in 1954 by scientists at Bell Labs. This would free up billions of pounds to spend on more deserving causes like schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. One of the key benefits of solar energy is that it doesn’t release greenhouse gases or pollutants. With the right planning, your solar panels can generate enough electricity to meet your needs over a 12-month period. Energy = 964 kWh/m²/year. The oil and gas industry, on the other hand, has been cutting jobs every year since 2013. When the grid is full and can’t draw power from the panels, the batteries charge. A photovoltaic panel is a collection of modules, themselves comprised of photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells are bound together in modules, and modules are wired together to form arrays. Tesla’s PowerWall – a home battery for use with domestic solar systems – also uses lithium-ion technology and can generate 13.5 kWh from a full charge. But during the summer months, Octopus Energy generates so much solar electricity it can supply its non-green customers, too. How does solar energy work? There’s a lot to know about how solar works before you make the switch. Let’s talk about how much. Most locations in the United States get enough sunlight to produce sufficient electricity from solar panels. As long as you have enough roof space to install the right size solar panel system, the power that your panels will produce will effectively eliminate most of your electricity bill. As the UK’s largest investor in solar farms, Octopus has helped develop over a hundred different sites, many of which generate electricity on behalf of Octopus Energy customers. The UK’s bee populations are already in decline and solar farms could help them bounce back. All rights reserved. The UK used 357 TWh of electricity in 2016. Whether its demand-side response or grid-scale battery plants, storage will allow the benefits of solar energy to penetrate every aspect of society. Excess CO2 in our atmosphere is melting polar ice, increasing desertification, and causing more extreme weather like floods, droughts, and hurricanes. Here are 7 things you need to know. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – also known as solar panel systems, solar energy systems, or solar power systems – convert sunlight into electricity. Sign up today to see how much solar can save you. Investing in a solar panel system can deliver better returns than stocks and bonds – and now is the right time to make that investment. The cost to generate solar electricity has fallen substantially in the last few decades. They can even extend the life of your roof by protecting it from daily wear and tear. Solar and wind have already achieved grid parity (the point at which the cost to generate renewable energy matches or falls below that of conventional methods), and by 2020, IRENA predicts they’ll be even cheaper. Each cell contains semiconducting material, usually silicon, and when light hits the silicon, electrons are knocked out of the silicon atoms. It wasn’t until Bell Laboratories in the US began experimenting with silicon in the 1950s that the first solar cell appeared, paving the way for a new generation of solar panels that could power everyday appliances. Solar energy is the world’s fastest-growing energy source, and for good reason. Average monthly European solar PV module prices by module technology and manufacturer, March 2010—May 2017 (left) and average yearly module prices by market in 2015 and 2016 (right). If you can afford to pay your electricity bill every month, you can afford to install a solar panel system. Building upon these discoveries, Charles Fritts built the first selenium-based solar module in 1883. Solar energy is the technology used to harness the sun's energy and make it useable. With a $0-down solar loan, solar lease or PPA, you can finance your system and see immediate savings. Start your solar journey today with EnergySage. “Solar power has become the key energy source of the future because its success in scaling has driven down cost, making it increasingly viable around the world without the need for government subsidies. Energy = 964,000 Wh/m² My wife and I have a vacation place at the beach in Florida that is a near-net-zero-energy home. And, right now, the UK is generating 12,756 MW of solar energy. Solar energy creates DC, or direct-current, power. And solar panels are being researched to increase efficiency. The Government has already withdrawn much of its subsidy support for solar electricity, yet it continues to grow. There are lots of storage technologies available, from batteries to pumped hydro, and we’ll need to use a complement of solutions to ensure the lights stay on long after the sun has gone down. However, as noted previously, PV panels aren’t 100% efficient. Enter your zip code to find out what typical solar installations cost in your neighborhood. Our houses use AC, or alternating current. As early as 6000 BC, the Chinese designed their homes to capture the warmth of the sun. This is making it increasingly difficult for animals to find food, shelter, and mates with which to reproduce. Once the project is complete 350,000 mirrors will reflect light onto boilers. From panel manufacturers to installation engineers, solar power needs talented minds to fulfill its potential in the UK. Instead, we have a reasonably predictable source of free energy that doesn’t swing with market moods – resulting in much lower bills. As they fuse, the reaction releases enormous amounts of energy, heating the core to 15.6 million degrees celsius. Job Outlook. By insuring against rises they hope to protect their market share, but this comes at a premium which is passed on to the customer through their energy bills. Wowed by wind farms: inspiring and educating the schoolkids of Aberdeenshire. The combined electricity output of the solar farm then enters the grid where it’s distributed to homes and businesses throughout the UK. Other trademarks are the property of EnergySage, LLC or our licensors and are used with permission. 6. Enter your zip code to find out what typical solar installations cost in your neighborhood. Following Becquerel’s discovery, the world went dizzy with dreams of endless, free power. Relying on fossil fuels exposes us to wholesale prices that vary according to supply and demand. While solar photovoltaic technology is improving incrementally each year, financial incentives and rebates will decrease as solar becomes more popular. Solar energy is abundant, free, and sustainable – ideal for generating electricity. Thermal panels capture sunlight and turn it into heat. Thermal energy. Equally, if the UK relies on a distributed network of solar energy, and not a small number of centralised coal or gas power stations, blackouts, brownouts, and power surges will affect fewer people. A composite image of the sun taken at different wavelengths. This energy is generated when sunlight is converted into electricity. That’s why we really want to share some things that you might not know about solar energy. In fact, if the UK generated solar electricity exclusively, we’d remove 25% of our greenhouse gas emissions for good. If it’s a liquid-based system, the solar collector is either a flat plate of insulated copper pipes or a series of evacuated tubes. Will our homes all be powered by renewable energy in 2030? Solar power (aka solar radiation or insulation) is energy from our sun in the form of heat and light. Solar panel systems are incredibly durable. In his book Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air, David J C MacKay estimates the UK receives an average of 100 W/m2 for flat land and 110 W/m2 for south-facing roofs from the sun in a typical year. There are some emissions associated with the manufacture and installation of solar panels but they are extremely low compared to processes used in other areas of the energy sector. All EU countries are net importers of energy, so we’re vulnerable to price rises when something disrupts the supply chain. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems – also known as solar panel systems, solar energy systems, or solar power systems – convert sunlight into electricity. Solar panels are therefore a lucrative, eco-friendly choice for land that might otherwise have gone to waste. Other sources suggest that you may be able to cut your energy bills in half with properly sized panels and optimal sun exposure. This also works at the domestic level. According to Energy Informative, recent studies have shown that homeowners in many states are able to reduce their electricity expenses by more than $100 per month when they switch to solar power. While a 15-20% efficiency doesn’t sound like much, the fact that solar energy is renewable means that any energy converted is helpful. © NASA. Solar panels can be installed practically anywhere that receives direct sunshine for most of the day and is not shaded by trees or buildings. This ensures that no matter what the weather, season, or time of day, Octopus Energy guarantees to replace every kWh used by their Green tariff customers with a renewable one. The solar collector transfers heat to a liquid within the pipes or tubes, which then enters central heating or plumbing systems via a hot water tank. Energy = 876,000 Wh/m² Having our own supply of solar energy means we don’t need to rely on imported fossil fuels for generation. Adding a Battery to Your Solar Panel System, now is the right time to make that investment, Sign up today to see how much solar can save you. However, selenium wasn’t a particularly efficient photovoltaic material. 1. Over 70% of the energy we use is for heating our homes and businesses, therefore thermal panels are an excellent, inexpensive way to cut your energy use. Moreover, you will reduce your carbon footprint by using solar energy, since it is totally green and renewable.Solar energy users save, annually, as much as 75 million barrels of oil and 35 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Reactive Technologies, an Octopus partner, is working to improve the quality of grid data to help National Grid balance a decentralised, intermittent source like solar. We need sensing and monitoring equipment that helps us better understand how much solar energy is being generated, where it’s coming from, and how much is being used. Earth’s most powerful ally. One of Octopus Energy’s solar farms, for example, in Molland, Devon, uses an array of 12% efficiency, but that’s more than enough to power 12,000 homes at peak output of 5MW. Are energy-efficient appliances worth it? Should You Install Solar Batteries for Home Use? While we’ve not reached those utopian heights yet, we can capture a proportion of that solar energy and convert it into heat and electricity using solar panels. Solar energy is the result of nuclear fusion inside the sun’s core. If farmers can exploit brownland, or other poor quality land, they won’t intensify farming of other pastures. There are many things that could potentially go wrong if you aren’t properly trained in the installation process. Instead of propping up a failing, destructive, and expensive energy source, the government could allow the market to determine the best source of power. Energy = 876 kWh/m²/year, South-facing roofs The project relies on a technology known as solar thermal energy. As soon as the sun sets, or the grid experiences a shortage, the batteries discharge. Here are 15 facts about solar energy that you likely didn’t know about this fascinating energy source that is growing at a remarkable rate. Energy = power x time Another advantage of solar energy is that it frees us from a volatile fuel market. The energy created in the cells either needs to be used immediately or be stored. At present, the Government’s support of fossil fuels far outweighs that of renewables. With that in mind, let’s explore how solar energy works and how it’s going to change the UK economy for the better. Also, by creating a second income for farmers, solar farms protect swathes of countryside from over-cultivation. Panels that face south will produce the most electricity, but your panels can also face east or west. Solar energy has always been an important resource for humans. It is therefore great for the environment and for consumers.”, Matt Setchell, Head of Renewables, Octopus Investments. Using solar energy has become an acute need of the hour and it is currently being utilized in many forms for many purposes but its conversion into electrical energy is mainly known as solar energy. You don’t have to look hard to see how climate change is wreaking havoc on the animal kingdom. Indeed, you can buy renewable energy cheaper than many Big Six Standard Variable Tariffs (SVTs). Most solar panel manufacturers offer a 25-year power production warranty guaranteeing that their solar panels will continue to generate electricity at a certain capacity for the warranty’s duration. Enter your zip code to see solar quotes near you. These are made out of semiconductors and work by converting sunlight into electricity. Today, solar panels are installed on over two million homes in the U.S. So the calculation becomes: Flat land Today the solar industry is standing as a real alternative to power the future of the human generations. And in times of conflict, having our own supply of solar power defangs any potential attack on energy sources, overt or otherwise. The sun continuously strikes the earth with over 173,000 terrawatts of energy. NASA and other space agencies have been doing it for years, powering satellites and spacecraft without the need for heavy generators or fuel tanks. While panel installation and manufacture produce a small amount, it’s more than compensated for once panels are operational. What is the Best Battery for a Solar Panel System? The pump itself can be powered by a solar photovoltaic panel, making it even more energy efficient. The system consists of an inverter as well as the solar panels. Abundant, sustainable, and cheaper than coal (and predicted to beat gas and nuclear by 2022), solar is bringing about big changes around the globe. In fact, the earth receives more energy from the sun in one hour than the population of the world uses in an entire year. Solar energy is a source of energy that is obtained directly from the Sun. When you install a solar energy system on your property, you remain connected to the electricity grid. The most important factors to consider when you evaluate your solar panel options are the rates you pay for electricity and the rebates and incentives available to you. Thanks in part to the Solar Energy Technologies Office's investments, the cost of going solar goes down every year. Solar energy is the result of nuclear fusion inside the sun’s core. In an air-based system, the solar collector heats air which is then redistributed throughout the building using fans. EnergySage is the nation's online solar marketplace: when you sign up for a free account, we connect you with solar companies in your area, who compete for your business with custom solar quotes tailored to fit your needs. Using figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Carbon Brief estimates financial aid of between “$5.8bn and $7bn since 2010.”. Like all stars, the core smashes lighter elements together to form heavier ones. On average, homeowners in the U.S. break even in 8 years. However, many things are not known about solar panels and every homeowner needs to be aware of the following things before making the investment. The answer to this question varies. Not only does it support life on earth as we know it, it drives the planet’s climate (weather systems) and produced renewable energy. 9 June 2020 • 3.00 - 4:00 pm By joining this webinar, you will learn all the aspects of solar and you even get the chance to talk to a representative from Fronius Austria! This Kiwi Power facility in Wales, for example, stores solar energy in Tesla lithium-ion batteries. So how does each type of solar panel work? This leaves us at the mercy of social, economic, and political forces outside of our control. Alexander Edmond Becquerel (1820-1891) discovered that sunlight created an electrical current between silver chloride and platinum. In our sun’s case, this is the fusion of hydrogen into helium. Solar farms consist of several solar arrays. A: Solar panels are efficient enough that they do make a difference to the environment and cost. How do solar panels work? Each thermal system varies, but they work on a similar principle. Photovoltaic panels aren’t as efficient as thermal panels, reaching about 25-30% in the most expensive models, while thermal panels operate between 50% and 70%. The free electrons, under the influence of a negative and positive electric field in the silicon, are then drawn from one side to the other, creating a current. These factors now have the solar energy industry poised to explode. A levelized cost of energy analysis by Lazard estimates that the unsubsidized cost of electricity from utility-scale solar energy is now between 3.2 … The UK’s first ever subsidy-free solar farm opened in 2017, and analysts predict solar will thrive independently by 2025. Photovoltaic panels capture sunlight and convert it to electricity. One of solar energy’s biggest benefits is protecting biodiversity. As you can see from the graph above, anaerobic digestion compensates for fewer hours of sunshine in December. It is the only support for all types of things on earth. Start with these five: 1. Whichever storage portfolio we choose, open competition and innovation will determine the winners. Solar energy is the most powerful resource that we have available around us. As a result, the need for qualified workers in solar energy careers will increase. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cohabiting with existing species, and protecting declining populations, solar energy can help animals thrive. Energy can just be rerouted from another local site. Examples include: Wiring Problems: This is a job that requires you to work with electrical elements. Nor do we need to import electricity from nearby countries, or pay a hedging premium against rises. 4 Things to Know Before You Take the Solar Energy Plunge. If the wholesale price goes down or stays the same, customers also lose out. In London, for example, you’d pay just 13.9p per kWh for Octopus Energy’s Green tariff, but 16p per kWh for Scottish Power’s Online Standard tariff. However, despite the increasing adoption of solar, it’s still a widely misunderstood resource. This is an incredible amount, considering the fact that one terrawatt is equal to one trillion watts. When the water boils, the steam turns a turbine, creating electricity. Using Solar Energy is Not a Novel Idea Harnessing energy coming from the sun is seen as a rather new technology. Because the intensity of solar radiation at Earth’s surface is so low, these collectors must be large in area. Like all stars, the core smashes lighter elements together to form heavier ones. But this is a measure of solar power (the rate of energy produced), and we’re interested in solar energy (the amount of energy we receive). By managing these assets together, and using cutting edge technology from Reactive Technologies, we can improve performance for our investors and attract further investment into UK solar.”. Once the initial solar panel costs are covered, you will not need to spend a cent on the electricity they produce. In California’s Mojave Desert, the largest solar energy project in the world is currently under construction. Thankfully, the atmosphere attenuates solar energy to a degree that’s safe and enables life to flourish. The production of solar energy produces zero emissions and … It’s unlikely we could ever meet such demand with solar power alone, given our distance from the equator and cloudy weather, but solar has proven more than capable of bearing a significant share. In the UK alone, solar energy accounted for 12.6% of all renewable energy generation in 2016 – a 25% increase on 2015 figures. This takes into account our seasons, weather, geographical location, and the time of day. The photovoltaic effect, as it came to be known, was further developed by Willoughby Smith (1828-1891), who discovered selenium’s greater conductivity in the presence of light. Broadly speaking, there are two types of solar panel, thermal and photovoltaic. Fossil fuels upset the natural carbon cycle, as well as polluting our ecosystems. It depends on how much power your system generates and how much energy you use. So in many cases, fossil fuels aren’t just bad for your health and the environment, but also your pocket. But we can do a lot more with electricity than we can with heat, so the panels are an extremely important ingredient of a decarbonised economy. Already the solar industry employs almost 126,000 people, growing every year to meet both private and public demand for solar energy. That’s still a dangerous amount of energy (as anyone with bad sunburn will tell you), and without our atmosphere protecting us from the worst of the sun’s power, our oceans would evaporate and life would die out. On any given day this figure could be extremely different. As light hits solar cells, electrons are removed from atoms and then flow throughout the cell. Octopus Energy generates electricity from a large portfolio of solar, wind, and anaerobic digestion sites. ENERGYSAGE and the EnergySage logo, are trademarks owned by EnergySage, LLC. A solar PV array consisting of panels of connected solar modules. Simplifying the “Going-Solar” Process Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have popped up across the country as an increasing number of Americans choose to power their daily lives with the sun’s energy. “Octopus led the roll-out of solar energy generation in the UK back in 2011,, and remains the largest solar owner/operator in the UK. If you are one of the millions contemplating the use of solar energy in your home, you have a lot of things to learn. As such innovation continues, the future of solar energy looks bright – and so, therefore, does ours. Solar energy boosts the economy by creating jobs. In 2016, for example, 69% of all Octopus Energy electricity was renewable – almost triple that of the national average. Things To Know About Solar Panels Solar energy is not only clean, it is 100% renewable. Storing energy is necessary because when the sun goes down, or if it’s cloudy, then the solar panels aren’t producing. Questions to Ask During Your Solar Installation. Except in extreme circumstances, they don't need to be washed or cleaned. Commercial solar farms normally use inexpensive arrays of 10-20% efficiency to ensure an acceptable cost-benefit ratio. Solar energy is responsible for climate and climate change. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth -- 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. In Melbourne, a solar system will output 3.6kWh per day per kW of solar installed. Solar technology captures energy from sunlight and transforms it into electricity at your power plug. First, a solar collector captures sunlight and converts it to heat. For people living in flats and smaller properties, or who can’t afford solar panels, your easiest option is to choose a 100% renewable electricity energy supplier. This is what actually generates electricity. Solar photovoltaic panels are made of tempered glass and can withstand hail, snow, rain, and high winds. Not only is it destroying natural habitats, but it’s disrupting populations, reducing their size or pushing them to new places. Inside the solar panel, there are solar cells (photovoltaic cells). 07/07/2015 11:38 am ET Updated Jul 07, 2016 I believe solar energy is a huge part of what we need to be about as a nation. Depending on the size of your property, you could conceivably generate enough solar electricity for all your needs (provided you had a means to store it). How solar energy works 1. Solar panel installation is best left to the professionals. Many energy suppliers hedge against rises by buying wholesale energy in advance (often up to two or three years). Or at the very least, a sizeable proportion of them. Electricity generated by Octopus Energy in December and June (2016). We mentioned that the solar energy industry is poised for growth. Over 10 million people come to EnergySage each year to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. We manage our assets alongside a growing portfolio of other renewable energy sources, including onshore wind and biomass. Not just for when the sun sets, but when we’re generating more or less than we need. Compare the best offers from solar installers near you. The Clean Energy Council advise that in Sydney a solar system should on average output 3.9 kWh of energy per day for every kW of solar installed, taking into account the seasons and the weather. Then in 1839, a new application emerged that would change how we think about solar energy forever. Energy = 110 x (365 x 24) Among the most common devices used to capture solar energy and convert it to thermal energy are flat-plate collectors, which are used for solar heating applications. Solar energy is created by cells absorbing sunlight and converting heat energy into electricity. Period. Newly-cooled liquid is then pumped back to the solar collector for reheating. Everything you need to know about solar energy, © 2020 Octopus Capital Ltd - All rights reserved, the world’s fastest-growing energy source, predicted to beat gas and nuclear by 2022, 12.6% of all renewable energy generation in 2016, the solar industry employs almost 126,000 people, The UK’s first ever subsidy-free solar farm, analysts predict solar will thrive independently by 2025, 69% of all Octopus Energy electricity was renewable, Coronavirus recovery could help us fight climate change. Conflict, regulations, and leadership changes can all drive up the price of resources bought from that country. © Copyright 2009-2020 EnergySage, LLC. To fully realise the potential of solar energy, and secure it as an independent energy source for the future, we need better data and management systems to ensure each element of the solar journey is efficient and effective. At the surface, the sun releases this energy at around 63 million W/m2, which blasts its way towards Earth at the speed of light, finally reaching Earth after about eight minutes. At times when your system produces more electricity than you use, you receive credit for the electricity you send to the grid; if you need more electricity than your solar energy system is producing, you can draw it from the grid. At first glance, based on our calculations above, a typical household using 3,100 kWh in a year would need around 3m2 of solar panels. And according to a new report in The Lancet, pollution causes 50,000 deaths in the UK every year – mainly from industry and transport. You can use the electricity generated by your solar PV system to power your home, your business or even your car. Does solar energy interest you? Energy = 100 x (365 x 24) As signs of global warming become more prominent and frequent, solar energy helps us keep the lights on without disrupting the planet’s climate. Solar Energy Systems Always Pay for Themselves (Over Time) The potential for utility savings is the main reason most people decide to use solar energy for their homes. Whether you’re interested in going solar for the dollar savings or you’re on a mission to help save the planet, having a strong understanding of solar basics will go a long way to assure you’re making an impactful investment. By the time it hits our upper atmosphere, much of the energy is lost, and we receive about 1370 W/m2. Solar 101: What Is Solar Energy? Your electric vehicle battery could function in the same way – charging or discharging according to your driving schedule and the grid’s status. Also, they tend to last longer and require less maintenance than thermal panels. Later, solar energy was used in solar ovens to cook food, to heat water, and in greenhouses to grow exotic fruits and vegetables in cooler climes. To really take advantage of solar energy, we must be able to store it. As solar energy costs continue to fall, the UK is in prime position to meet its 2020 renewable targets and beyond. In our sun’s case, this is the fusion of hydrogen into helium. By 1000 BC, the Romans and Chinese were concentrating solar energy with “burning mirrors” to light fires and torches. As of 2011 , the technology produced less than one tenth of one percent of global energy demand. You can use the electricity generated by your solar PV system to power your home, your business or even your car. We need to identify and predict generation and demand patterns, and implement a sophisticated response mechanism to manage them. Solar energy is used to power air conditioners, billboards, shelters for the homeless, and even bike paths. Most homeowners considering solar energy want to know when their investment will have paid for itself in energy savings. One of the advantages of solar energy is no (or low) carbon dioxide or other emissions to affect the atmosphere. To convert the sun’s energy from DC to AC, the solar panels require an inverter. The SunPower X22 domestic solar panel, for example, one of the most efficient on the market, is rated at 22.8%, so really you’d need around 14m2. Copyright © IRENA 2018. That’s enough to power nearly four million homes. Tax Credits and Incentives for Energy Storage. That's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use. 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