Solar Photovoltaics, also known as Solar PV, has come along in huge advances since it began to be adapted for multiple new uses in the 1960s. Since the first solar powered calculator, solar PV has come in strides, now rapidly growing in its capabilities as a renewable global energy resource. Technology has advanced to the point where Solar PV panels are more efficient, affordable and more readily available than ever. There is every hope that the future of solar PV will bring our planet away from our dependency on fossil fuels, continuing to increase how much renewable energy contributes to the global usage of electricity.
What exactly is solar photovoltaics and how does it work?
Solar panels produce electricity through an energy transfer that happens within each individual solar cell within the panel. The process starts with the sun. According to NASA, every square metre of the Earth’s surface receives approximately 342 watts of solar energy. As much as 30% of this is reflected off, but most of this energy can be absorbed by a solar cell. Particles of light energy called photons pass through the semi-conductive layers of silicon in the cell, these photons cause electrons to move from one layer to the next. The transfer of electrons creates an electrical current. When all the solar cells work together, this current creates a circuit which then travels from the solar panel to an inverter. Here, the direct current is inverted from DC to AC, the current of electricity which powers your appliances.
Solar energy is the most abundant energy source on our planet and through Solar PV, we can use this energy to create free, pollution free electricity. We can power homes on a small scale or build huge solar farms. At current, the largest solar panel farm in the world is in India. The Bhadla Solar farm spans a whopping 56 square kilometres and has a total capacit of 2,245 megawatts.
What other interesting facts do we have about Solar PV? As solar panel experts, we’re interested in the history of photovoltaics and how it has innovated the world. Check out these top facts.
Solar Photovoltaics was discovered in 1849
Edmond Becquerel was a French physicist who discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting in his father’s laboratory. At the surprisingly young age of 19, Becquerel used silver chloride to coat platinum electrodes. Once exposed to sunlight, he noted how an electrical charge flowed while the light reacted with the solutions. Because of his discovery, the photovoltaic effect is also known as the ‘Becquerel effect’. Edmond Becquerel also made advances in early photography.
The world’s first silicon solar cells were created in 1954
Even though the photovoltaic effect was discovered over a hundred years previously, it was only in 1954 that the first silicon solar cell was officially developed and tested at Bell labs. The team responsible demonstrated their success by using the solar cell to power a small toy Ferris wheel and a solar powered radio transmitter. The success led to a huge breakthrough in solar science. Only a few years after the first cell was produced, solar cells were being commonly used to power satellites and other large scale equipment. What held back solar cells being made readily available for greater consumption was the cost of their construction. Materials were not easy to come by. However, recent advances in technology have since simplified their construction, leading to a much greater application of solar cells throughout the world.
Solar panels increase property value by 14%
According to Bettermove, a recent study showed that having solar panels installed and fitted at your property can increase its value by quite some margin. Solar panels bring in a host of benefits for existing homeowners, benefits that potential buyers can also cash in on. The study showed that some properties in London saw increases up to £90,000.
Solar panels revolutionised space exploration
Without Solar PV, space would be a very much unexplored frontier. In 1958, Vanguard 1 was launched into the Earth’s orbit as the first satellite to generate its own power through solar cells. It is currently the oldest manmade satellite in orbit with 6 billion miles logged. Since Vanguard 1’s launch, solar PV paved the way for future space missions as the space run went into full force in the 1960’s. Today, Solar PV is what powers the International Space Station and all satellites in orbit. There are even projects scoped out in the future to use solar panels in space to generate electricity for consumption on the planet.
Las Vegas is completely powered by solar energy
The city of lights itself runs completely off renewable energy, home to a whopping 443 megawatts of total solar capacity, which equates to around 690 watts per person. Las Vegas is the second ranking city in the US in terms of its solar capacity.
It takes up to 10 years to make back the cost of solar panels
Business owners and homeowners alike may be put off investing in solar PV panels because of their price tags. Yet the savings on electricity bills allow the chance to make up the cost. It can take between five to ten years to make back all the money spent on both the solar panels and the cost of their installation. With the added chance to earn money through the Smart Export Guaranteed, you can even make an eventual profit on your renewable energy supply.
The cost of solar panels has reduced by 82% since 2010
The global cost for solar PV panels has seen a dramatic decline with materials for their production becoming much more readily available. Advances in solar PV technology have resulted in better designs which make each solar cell much more efficient in generating free, green electricity.
It is possible to be dependent from the national grid with added battery storage
Adding solar battery storage gives you the viability to spend absolutely nothing on your electricity bills. Total independence is possible, guaranteed that you have the space on your property to fit enough solar panels to completely cover your energy consumption. For properties that have empty space going to waste, ground-mounted solar panels are a fantastic way to make full use of outdoor space that you’re not making full use of. Farm owners especially can really benefit from using their wasted space, building in battery storage so that a supply of electricity is always at hand during the night and on overcast days when electricity productivity slows down.
Solar PV accounts for 3% of the global electricity generation
While this figure may seem small, solar PV is only the third largest renewable contributor to the global electrical supply. Wind farms and hydro power plants still generate more mega watts than solar PV. However, solar PV is the only renewable energy source that homeowners can benefit from on a small scale through their own solar panels installed at their property.
4.1% of homes in the UK produce electricity from solar panels
The trends show that this figure will greatly increase over the next decade as more and more homeowners are making the decision to invest in solar panels. In 2008, solar panels only generated around 1 megawatt of electricity for the country’s total supply. This has jumped up substantially thanks to the buy-in scheme that launched in 2010. Though that scheme has since been replaced by Solar Export Tariffs, the lure for having solar panels fitted still brings in more and more interest from homeowners. The electricity bill savings and the increased value on a property bring about their own incentives.
How to get started on benefiting from solar PV yourself
At Dynamic Solar, we deliver all the benefits that solar PV panels can bring to homes and businesses all around the South of England. We offer an end-to-end service that starts with a free quote, tailored to your needs, your roof space and how many solar panels you’ll need. You can request a free quote here. If you’d like to find out more about our services, our team is on hand to answer any questions. You can give us a call on 01202 985325.