Concentration Solar Energy Systems

July 11th, 2011
A concentration solar energy system is exactly what it sounds like. It uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a single point, creating a very powerful beam of light. the concentrated beam is usually focused on a long tube filled with fluid. The fluid is super heated and used to generate power, usually by powering a steam engine, or stored for later use. Other Types of concentration solar energy systems use a receiver on top of a central tower to focus the beam of light on instead of a long tube.
Though there are a lot of different types of mirrors used in concentration solar energy systesm, like a linear fresnel reflector and the Stirling dish, the most commonly used type of reflector is a simple parabolic mirror. The reflectors use a tracking system to follow the sun so that the maximum amount of sunlight is being reflected at all times.  Concentration solar energy systems, also known as solar thermal energy system, is mostly used in commercial energy prodution.  There are several large scale power plants that use this technology for energy production. Canberra, Australia houses a fifty kilowatt Stirling solar dish and the SEGS plants in california use parabolic trough technology to produce electricity.
As with most solar energy systems, a concentration solar energy system can only produce electricity during the day time hours. This energy produced, however, can be stored for use at night.

How Do Solar Panels Work

July 4th, 2011

Solar panels are everywhere, on calculators, outdoor lights, even space stations. No Matter where there placement is the work based on the same concept of using semi-conductive material and free flowing electrons to produce electricity

The main ingredient in solar panels that allows them to produce electricity is silicon. This is one of the most important solar energy facts because it is the basis of most solar power production . Silicon is a semi conductive material that is most commonly used as a base material in computer chips. what makes this material so special is that it is naturally a neutral material meaning that it has no positive or negative charge. This allows it to be combined with other elements to create semi-conductive materials perfect for conducting electricity.

There are usually two silicon plates in a solar panel. one is combined with another element to create a positively charged material and the other plate is combined to create a negatively charged material When sunlight hits a solar panel, a particle in the sunlight, called a photon, hits the negatively charged semi conductive plate and knocks electrons free from it. This negatively charged free electron is attracted to the positively charged semi-conductive plate. This movement of electrons from the negatively charged plate to the positively charged plate creates an electric current.

The electricity generated by one solar panel is prettly small and is not very useful alone. This is why most solar panel systems have many solar panels wired together to produce a more electricity. the electricity produced is direct current and is usually stored in a battery or converted to alternating current and used immediately by appliances.

Types of Solar Panels

June 30th, 2011

If you are ever planning on learning how to make a solar panel or just want to learn about them, it is important to know about the different types of panels.  There are many different types of solar panels, however, there are only four main types that can be bought and installed on a house or other building.  Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
 
The fist main type of solar panel is an amorphous silicone panel. The panels are typically made with copper that has a thin film of silicon over the top of it that are connected with wires. This type of panel is one of the cheapest to produce out of four but it also has the lowest electricity conversion rate averaging around five to seven percent.
 
The second main type of solar panel is  a mono-crystalline Silicon panel.  This type of panel is are made from a single piece of silicone with metal around the edges to make it more conductive.  This type of panel is the most expensive type of panel to produce, however, it is also the most efficient with a conversation rate around sixteen percent.
 
The next type of solar panel is a polycrystalline silicon panel.  This type of panel is made of multiple photovoltaic cells that are connected together to from one single piece.  polycrystalline silicon panels have a conversion rate around thirteen percent and are alos the cheapest to produce.  This is also one of the most common types of solar panels used in homes.
 
The last type of solar panel is a String Ribbon Silicon Panel.  This type of panel is very similar to the polycrystalline panels and have have about the same conversion rates.  The difference between the two is that the photovoltaic cell are arranged in strips of silicon connected with bars of metal to form a single panel.
 
There are other types of panels but these four are the most widley used.  If you are deciding on which type of build or install, keep in mind that investing in a panel with a higher conversion rate will give you the greatest return on investment.

Advantages of Passive Solar Energy Systems

June 20th, 2011

The list of the advantages of solar energy is growing longer and longer as technology advances in the solar energy department.  In this case, we are going to focus on the advantages of passive solar energy systems.  First off, what is a passive solar energy system.  Most people already know exactly what one is, they may even already have on installed in their homes.

Passive solar energy systems deal mostly with architectural design, and deals with materials that absorb and store heat gained from sunlight.  It includes things such as skylights and double pane glass windows.  The most common component seen in passive solar energy systems is large south facing windows because they have the most exposure to the sun during all the seasons.

The biggest advantage of passive solar energy systems is obvious, energy savings.  It is much cheaper to heat as house that effectively uses a passive solar energy system.  Most houses that effectively use passive solar energy have a rectangular floor plan elongated east to west.  They will have large, glazed, south facing windows with an overhang or foliage that shades it during the summer months.

Another advantage of a passive solar energy system is that no mechanical parts are used in them.  This makes them easier to maintain  and depending on the system, cheaper to install.  There are some passive systems that use fans to circulate air and heat through a house.  These are called hybrid systems.

Passive solar energy systems also add value to homes.  This is less obvious but having a solar energy system in your home greatly increases its value.  Even more than that, the energy savings is very attractive to home buyers.

Short and sweet, a few of the advantages of a passive solar energy system.  You may want to look at your house and see if you already have a passive solar energy system installed.  If not, one can be installed for relatively cheap and can increase the value of your home.