There is currently a huge ongoing investment in renewables technology with a view to driving the capacity expansion that there is clearly demand for. Our greater awareness and commitment to reducing our carbon impact is combining with renewables technology becoming more advanced, accessible and affordable, and this is evidenced in the figures. The IEA’s Renewable Energy Market Update from June 2023 showed that the previous 12 months had seen a global renewables capacity leap of 107GW to 440GW, the largest increase yet seen. And with solar power accounting for two thirds of that increase, and renewables forecasted to account for more than 90% of global electricity capacity by 2027, it is clear that solar energy is a technology that is being widely embraced and that now is the time to embrace it.

Solar energy is actually an established technology, but in the last few years it has increased in popularity, based on better reliability and more accurate performance data. Solar panel installations are now commonplace in both residential and commercial environments, with solar panels more regularly seen on house roofs and business premises, and larger solar farms starting to more regularly pepper the landscape in rural areas, so if solar power is becoming the most popular renewable energy source, let’s try and understand a bit more about it.

What is solar energy?

A solar energy system is the installation of one or more solar panels, which are known as photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells can absorb the sun’s radiant energy to create a direct current (DC) supply, and using an inverter can then convert this into alternating current (AC) that is usable in the home or workplace in place of what is normally provided by the national grid.

The solar PV system is designed to meet your electricity demands, so a standard family home may only need one solar panel to generate the electricity it needs, while a small-medium business looking to reduce its carbon impact may need three or four solar PV panels connected in series. On the other end of the scale, an industrial business with high energy demands may require its own larger scale solar farm, where lots of panels can generate and store the energy it needs.

What are the benefits of solar panels?

  • Renewable – First and foremost, solar panels generate electricity based on an inexhaustible supply of radiant energy from the sun, and which works as an energy source even on a cloudy day, so while you are generating your own electricity without draining the demands on the national grid, you are also doing this without polluting the air or water sources and without using greenhouse gases. On a larger scale there is also the option of integrating your solar power systems with onshore or offshore wind power or hydropower, to further enhance your renewable capacity.
  • Energy access – Solar panels allow you to generate electricity in remote areas that struggle to meet demand because they are not on the centralised grid. This gives these areas better energy security and independence.
  • Financial strength – Of course the use of solar power saves money by replacing your reliance on the national grid, and over time this saving will cover the initial investment and ultimately provide a return on your investment, if it is generating the electricity demand you need. This helps families and businesses with their finances and also helps with job security.
  • Reduce industry impact – The use of solar power in energy-intensive industries such as mining, construction or manufacturing, has the potential to massively reduce the impact of these industries on the environment.

What are the challenges of using solar power?

We prefer to call these ‘challenges’ rather than cons or disadvantages, because these are not necessarily black marks against investing in solar energy, but are considerations that are worth the effort to think about and overcome, because of the many benefits listed above.

  • Reliability – While radiant energy is produced even when the sun isn’t shining, it does provide fluctuations in supply and therefore potential problems with consistency. There is now technology available to better monitor, predict and optimise the radiant energy being produced in different climactic conditions, so it should be possible to match demand with output, even overnight.
  • Location – Following on from the above, the location of solar panels is critical if you hope to optimise the system and generate the supply you need, so think about surrounding buildings, overhanging trees and of course, where the sun shines most during the day and in different seasonal periods.
  • Storage – Because you won’t be able to generate electricity overnight when there is no radiant energy being produced, you will need a battery storage capability within your solar PV system. This ensures you can maintain consistency and reliability of supply.
  • Maintenance – A solar PV system is an electrical installation, so you need to consider appropriate installation and commissioning, and periodical testing to ensure the system is operating safely and generating the supply you need. Maintenance also includes cleaning the panels periodically to remove dirt and debris which can affect the capability of the panels.
  • Land – Of course you need available land to locate solar panels, if you don’t have sufficient roof space. People in communities can object to this and in rural areas or locations that aren’t built-up, this kind of land is much sought after, for housing or other developments or for agriculture.

Contact GoGreener Energy Services for your solar panel installation

The global push towards embracing solar power shows us that people are meeting and overcoming these challenges and that reliable, secure and consistent electricity supply is possible through a correctly designed and installed solar PV system. And if you can integrate this with other renewable energy sources – such as an air source heat pump for example – then this can greatly improve your carbon impact.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of solar energy and how it can work for you, contact our experts at Go Greener Energy Services today

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