How Do Solar Panels Save Energy?

Solar Panels

A solar panel system is a conjoint array of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that capture energy pouring from the sun in the form of photons; and transform that captured solar energy directly into electricity. As solar panels have gotten inexpensive over the years, a large number of Indians have begun embracing this gift from the sun. The government, too, has put immense money behind the development of solar power to meet its progressive target of generating 40 GW of power from rooftop projects by 2022.

How Does It Work?

It’s important to know how solar energy works, because it is this process that helps us grasp how it saves energy. Simply put, solar energy is energy that has been harnessed from the sun. The solar power itself is generated by a surface/medium that collects energy, which is a solar power system, as well as converting the captured energy into heat or electricity.

Two main ways that convert solar energy into solar power using a solar panel-

Photovoltaic Conversion (PV)This is a direct conversion method, and is the most commonly used form of generating solar energy. It involves the use of solar panels, or solar PV panels.

Solar Thermal ConversionThis is an indirect conversion method, and is used to generate heat for your home. It involves the use of a thermal collector to generate the heat so that your water or home can be warmed using solar energy

Industrial solar panels and residential solar panels, both consist of solar or photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert light energy into electrical energy. The PV cells of a solar rooftop panel are made up of P-N junction cells. When light (Photons) are incident on a solar cell, it gives energy to electrons which then moves to the conduction band from the valence band. This flow of electrons is known as current. The important way in which solar panels help to save energy is through removing a household’s dependence on the Country’s Power Grid. Alternatively, one can store extra energy in a solar battery, giving complete independence, even during the night and emergencies

And one of the ways the Indian government has been going about doing this is through the concept of net metering.

What is Net Metering?

Net metering is a process in which the electricity board keeps track of the energy consumed and generated by a solar panelled house. It allows consumers to feed surplus solar power into the state’s power grid when they don’t need it, and receive a credit on their electricity bill.

For example, in a state that has implemented the net metering policy, you get credited for the electricity you deliver back to the grid at the same price that you pay for the electricity.

Benefits of this Process

  • Savings on the Power Bill – With net metering systems, you only pay for the deficit power consumed i.e. the difference between the power consumed by the household from the grid and the solar power generated from the panels. This drastically reduces your electricity bill.
  • Not High Maintenance – Net metering system components like solar panels, inverter and mounting structures need low maintenance. Since these installations do not require generators or batteries, considerable expense for their maintenance is avoided.
  • Optimal Energy Utilisation – Power travelling from the grid to your home incurs transmission and distribution losses. These losses are almost negligible in net metering systems as energy is generated and consumed at the same spot.

How The Net Metering System Works?

In a rooftop net metering system, the DC power generated from the solar PV panels is converted to AC power using a power conditioning unit and is fed to the grid. These systems generate power during the day time, which is utilized fully to power captive loads and feed excess power to the grid. In case solar power is insufficient due to cloud cover or rain, the captive loads are served by drawing power from the grid. To enable net-metering, state electricity boards replace the existing connection meter with a bidirectional meter that displays the import and export energy separately.

In conclusion, here are some quick tips on buying your own efficient solar panel system

  1. Decide on the type of solar panels beforehand
  2. Make sure that solar panel mounting is certified based on your area specifications
  3. Be aware of the manufacturer’s warranty on the solar panel system
  4. Do not go for cheap and poor quality of solar panels and equipment
  5. Ask friends, neighbors and family who have had solar PV systems installed for recommendation