The Common Misconceptions About Solar Energy
Solar power refers to Sunlight converted to electricity. Utilization of this energy from the Sun, by converting it into electricity, with the help of photovoltaic cells, constitutes the overall process of Solar power generation. This is one energy source, that countries intent on optimizing alternative energy sources, are pushing for.
There are strong reasons behind the aggressive promotion of solar power today by countries like India, China and USA.
- It is an abundant and a perennial source of energy ;
- It is renewable ;
- An hour of sunlight can sustain the power requirement of the entire globe for a year; &
- It is a Green energy source
With so many positive aspects to this source of energy, the Solar energy industry still faces major hurdles when it comes to implementation of Solar energy. The primary hurdle is posed by the misconceptions that the industry counters about Solar power, Solar products, the way solar systems work and the overall efficiency of the Solar energy as a reliable power source.
Here is a list of some of the major perception hurdle that the Solar power domain continues to face even today.
This is probably the most obvious conclusion drawn from the fact that since it is the Sun’s energy that powers any solar system, these systems will obviously not work in the night or during the days when sunlight is not abundant. Though a logical conclusion and not without a base, the fact, however, remains, that solar systems are not made for daytime power generation only. The technology used in developing solar systems has obviously taken care of these aspects of the system.
Here is how the solar systems work.
There are two kinds of solar systems available as mentioned earlier on too: On-grid solar systems and the off-grid solar system.
On-grid Solar Systems: These systems are designed to produce enough power and more when they receive a good range of Sunlight. Connected to the state grid, the excess energy produced by these solar systems, is sent to the state grid to be stored. At night the stored energy from the grid is utilized to electrify the homes.
Off-grid Systems: These solar systems are the ones which come with the batteries. Batteries store the surplus electricity produced which in turn is used in the nights. They tend to be a little more expensive due to the batteries.
Perceptions vs Facts –
1) Perception: The equipment is way too costly.
Solar equipment range from water heaters to PV panels. The costs will vary according to the products opted for. One of the most popular solar product is the Solar Panel. They may cost till Rs. 1 Lakh.
There are two available options to choose from: A grid-connected Solar PV system and an off-grid PV Solar system. Both of these systems are apt for conditions that vary. In India, locations which experience frequent power cuts will find the Off-grid PV solar systems useful. This system comes complete with batteries. A grid-connected system, however, will cost less since it does not have batteries to store power. This type of solar PV panels is advised for locations which do experience power cuts. In fact, people usually opt for these systems as an alternative source of powering their electrical needs while cutting down on their electricity bills.
It must also be noted that solar panels come in two variations: Monocrystalline and polycrystalline panels. A monocrystalline panel is more efficient than a polycrystalline panel. A monocrystalline panel is also more efficient in its electricity production.
Given the fact that the initial cost of procuring and installing the solar equipment is seemingly high, the benefits in terms of credits that one gets back are way higher. Here are a few benefits that a solar panel user reaps:
- Lower electricity bills for the obvious reason that electricity is locally produced by the panels and used in the same premise.
- The Net metering facility which allows, households producing surplus power to incur a lower electricity bill as the net metering box helps in directing the excess produced power back to the state grid. The households which contribute to the state grid power accumulation is given the equivalent compensation in terms of lower electricity bills.
2) Perception: Bulky Solar Panels damage roofs.
Without a doubt solar panels are bulky. However, they are not bulky enough to damage a roof. In all eventuality, the expanse of the panels that cover up a part of the terrace is saved from the onslaught of natural damaging factors like rains and too much sunlight.
The doubts often stem from the perceived notion that these bulky looking solar systems are quite heavy. The fact is, the weight of each of these solar systems depends on the number of panels used. This, on the other hand, depends on the KWV requirement of a residence. For instance, an averagely sized residence like a bungalow, in India, needs a 15KWV of electrical supply for its adequate use. Interpreted in terms of the number of solar panels that can achieve this for the residence is around 16 panels. Each of these panels, weigh around 23kgs. Of course, depending on whether one is opting for a Monocrystalline or a Polycrystalline cell, the number of panels will remain 16 or less. Monocrystalline cells being more efficient will use lesser panels in such a setup. If a solar panel is ground mounted, there is nothing to worry about. However, when a terrace mounted solar system is planned, it is similar to planning a landscape or terrace garden, not necessarily in that order or terms of weight. For any such planning getting the terrace checked is a must for leakage and strength. A weak terrace will never be recommended for a terrace mounted solar system.
3) Perception: Solar Panels are hazardous as they electrocute.
One of the hardest misconception to dispel about solar panels is about their insulation. Since the panels produce electricity, the general fear is that the panels are capable of electrocuting. This, however, is completely untrue. For better understanding, it’s worth being aware that every solar panel comes with its own insulation fixes, the primary one being the earthing. Earthing not only makes the solar panels safe to be handled but also saves the equipment from damages due to any leakage in electric power. The types of earthing used on Solar PV systems are:
Direct Current / DC earthing: Used on modules of a solar system which stay mounted on structures and DC distribution board
Alternative Current / AC earthing: Used on inverters for insulation and AC distribution board
Earthing for lighting arrestor: This earthing is meant for insulating the solar panels from natural lightning.
4) Perception: Solar panels are high on maintenance.
As against this perception, Solar panels, in fact, need the least of maintenance. For one, the photovoltaic cells which are the soul of a solar panel are easy to clean. Since the panels are exposed, dust settles on them as well as birds. Dust and bird droppings being usually the dirt that needs to be cleaned, all that these solar panels need is water to be cleaned. One can do it as frequently as needed or once in two months. The reason they need to be cleaned is due to the film of dirt coming in-between the cells and the sunlight. Moreover, a quarterly inspection by a solar panel expert will take care of any defects like power leakage if any. The best part about maintaining a solar panel is that it comes with a warranty for 25 years. Solar inverters have a 5-year warranty on them.
Conclusion: Solar systems are the alternative the world at large needs today. This switch needs to be made for two major reasons: One, the environmental pollution that the fossil fuel generates while producing power electricity, maybe water pollution or environmental pollution, will in the near future make life difficult to be sustained on earth. Second, electrical power generated by sources like coal, which are non-renewable in nature, is depleting the stock of such resources rapidly. Change to the green, renewable and pollution or environmental pollution, will in the near future make life difficult to be sustained on earth. Third, electrical power generated by sources like coal, which are non-renewable in nature, is depleting the stock of such resources rapidly. Adapting to green and the renewable Solar energy will be the survival mantra in future.