Yielding Rays – Solar Cells and Efficiency

With increasing awareness for the environment and an increase in the demand for energy, solar is becoming the popular energy choice. Homeowners and investors alike are either leaving the grid all together, or taking advantage of selling into the grid at a price. Either way, the environmental and economical benefits are great.

There is still, however, a drawback of solar technology, its efficiency. Unlike biogas technology which is able to capture most of the gases in closed containers, much of the solar radiation that hits the panels is in fact not absorbed. This is a key factor in the loss of potential energy. Reflectance efficiency, thermodynamic efficiency, and the transfer of the energy on the panels to the system determines the efficiency of a system. Since a variety of factors are at work, it is proving an issue that cannot be fixed overnight.

In comparison to other energy production, solar efficiency is quite low, with an efficiency rate of approximately 20% for a regular photovoltaic panel (multicrystalline). Newer technologies over the last couple of years have demonstrated efficiency rates of up to 32% (multijunctional) which use different materials and production methods to create the cells, but these technologies have a number of shortcomings. For one, although they may yield higher energy rates, they have been largely untested. This means that when investors take on a multimillion dollar solar project, solar product that has 20 years + of proven testing is first choice, even if it has lower yielding rates. Another factor to consider is that although these panels generate more electricity, your return rate on your investment could be higher with less expensive systems with a lower energy production.

Although its efficiency is not that great, having a fixed object that just sits and just produces energy is an amazing asset. The energy it does produce in the meantime is sufficient as well. A normal micro fit PV system (10kW) can offset a large portion of household energy consumption from the grid. In addition, while the efficiency may be low, the panels still produce enough energy to be utilized for use as well as an investment tool.




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