Solar energy is a radiant heat and light directly from the sun; this energy can be harnessed by the help of a array of growing technologies such as solar thermal energy, solar architectures, photovoltaic ( PV), solar heater, solar panels, etc. The word solar originated from Latin which means the sun as a powerful source of energy which is employed to cool, heat, light, and heat (Jamret, 2009). This is achievable from solar since much of energy from the sun that falls on the earth in just an hour is more than the amount of energy that is used by all people living in the world in a year. Since the invention of the technologies to help harnessed the solar energy advancement of technology has been realized (brown, 2014).
The most common solar technologies adopted in both home and businesses are solar PV used for electricity generation employed for cooling and heating, solar heating of water among others (LaMeres, 2013). Due to the high environmental cost of conservative energy and the sources which are finite like the fossil fuels, the significance of the renewable sources of energy has become more appealing in the present years. Nevertheless, the effective harnessing of solar energy for the human use both in the domestic and industrial field has never been a walk in the park. Even though the silicon- based solar cells can be employed to help capture the light from the sun, they are very expensive to be produced in the industrial scale. Recently, there is some research which is ongoing to help develop some solar cells known as perovskite (Akinola, 2010).
These perovskites are extremely crystalline materials which can be made by large varieties of chemical compositions and are also deposited at a very low cost (Alex Veidenbaum, 2010Amsterdam). To make good use of the solar cells, these perovskite organizations have to be able to harness solar energy at a low cost, but the efficiency must be very high. The cells must also be relatively easy to manufacture, and it should also withstand the outdoor environmental temperature among other environmental factors like rainfall over a long duration of time. Perovskites face a great drawback when compared to silicon when used in the solar cell is their comparatively short lifespan (Bali, 2014). But still, innovation about the solar energy is on process evidence that man still believes that there is a better innovation that what we have right now. Solar power was a serious innovation last year 2016, with the advancement in solar panel new technologies is announced almost every week. The main solar technology is Photovoltaic (PV)
Photovoltaic cells are employed to convert direct sunlight into electricity; the name PV is the process of converting light particle (photons) into electricity (voltage) (Betty, 2009). This is referred to as PV effect. The PV works in the following principle; in the cell, sunlight dislodges electrons from their host silicon atom. The tine photon is harnessed by these electrons and imparts sufficient energy to dislodge the electrons from its host atoms. Close to the higher surface of is a membrane known as a PN-junction. The junction is made by diffusion of tiny amounts of the phosphorous to a certain depth of about one micrometer into a thin into a thin wafer of the silicon. If the delocalized electrons cross the PN-junction, it will not easily return. Hence it will create a negative voltage to be on the surface facing the sun (Sun, 2016). A continuous process of this will enable a continuous flow of electrons which result to a continuous from of current. This technology has adopted several innovations in the use of the solar energy in the recent years. Under PV there are some new technologies which are brought forth in the field and harnessing of the renewable solar energy. These technologies are discussed in the following subheadings;
Advances in Solar Cell Technology
For many years, researches have tried to look for a way in which the efficiency of the solar can be increased and at the same time reducing the cost of production of these cells (Boysen, 2012). A solar PV array is composed of several solar cells which are in hundreds and sometimes made up to a thousand. Individual cell converts solar energy into electric energy which makes the solar cell to convert nearly 85% of the solar energy that hits the cell is converted into electricity. A scientist has been burning the midnight oil to make their dream of maximum light capture and conversion come true (Boysen, 2012).
Currently, researchers at the Toronto University in Canada reveal a current type of light- profound nanoparticle known as colloidal quantum dots. Most people believe that this quantum dot will be cost effective and employs more flexible of materials for solar cells. Categorically, new materials employ the use of p-type n-type and semiconductors; these were able to function outdoor (Brian L. Stevens, 2003). The aforementioned is a very distinctive innovation because the prior design was not able to operate outdoor and hence not a practical application for the solar market. From the research in the University, it was found that n-type materials bind to oxygen, but the new colloidal dot doesn't do that, and hence it can uphold their stability in air (outside). With this, the radiant light fascination will be highly increased (Brown, 2011). These new cells are found to be about 8 percent more efficient for conversion of sunlight into electricity as compared what is now is in the market already.
A scientist at Imperial College University in London is convinced that they managed to discover material known as Gallium Arsenide (Carlos A. Smith, 2011). This material discovered could make solar P-V systems close to about three times more effective than the already existing ones, this is because the material can be chemically altered in a way which makes it maximizes the sunlight capture. The model material is built with a sensor controlled window blind which helps in tracking the sun light containing light pipes which direct the light into the system (Daviss, 2013).
Advances in Energy Storage
Storage of electrical energy is essential for the technology since it helps to reduce wastage of electrical energy which is being lost when the power is not I use but it is present, electrical energy is being lost (Doebelin, 2010). A phenomenon known as ´´ use it or lose it ´´ type of energy since the energy produced by the solar can either be used at that time of production of allowing it to go to waste because there had not been a way to effectively store electrical energy. The electrical energy from the production must either be connected to the grid instantly or be lost. Because the sunlight will not give it’s light twenty-four hours in a day (Dougherty, 2014). This clearly shows that utmost of these PV cells are only meeting their electrical loads for just a part of the day. Hence a large amount of electrical energy is lost if In any case, the generated electricity is bot used immediately. For these aforementioned wastages to be reduced or done away with, then the solar PV are always connected with large batteries to aid in the storage of electricity, these batteries are available in the market. But still, these batteries are not sufficient even for the highest technology (Dueck, 2013). These batteries are expensive too, and they have very short life. Hence they are not an effective option for the utility consumers and companies. For this matter, the researchers are exploring more and more different methods to store this renewable so that it cannot only be used when once the generation has taken place but also later when there is a demand (Fritzson, 2010).
Currently, there is a company known as Novatec Solar which is commissioned a promising energy storage solution through solar PV systems into solar thermal by employing heat transfer fluid as opposed oils like in another system of storage (Ghosh, 2009). From their finding, they discovered that solar plant could operate at higher temperatures which are over 5000 C which will give much higher energy and power output. This will imply that the cost of storage of solar energy would be reduced significantly hence the company would use lastly employ the solar power plant as their base load as opposed to meeting maximum demand in the prime sunlight days hours. This will ensure that the energy from the solar can be used at a later date after the generation has been done, this ensures that the notion `` Use it or lose it `` is just vocabulary (Relf, 2010).
Recently there is a project established by the United States under the Department of Energy. The research is carried on at the state University of Ohio State. The researchers currently declared that they have come up with a battery which is about 20% effective, but the battery is about 30% cheaper as compared to any battery which is on the market today (Gialiani, 2013). The secret in this design and which makes the researcher realize their design is that the inbuilt rechargeable batteries are put I the panel itself as opposed to operating as two different standalone systems. By putting these two into one device, scientist says that they can lower the cost of generation by about 26 % as compared to the current ones in the market.
The idea of off-grid solar and solar plus storage have recently become famous in the United States' market, and for this, the solar manufacturers have taken have taken a notification on it (Gopal, 2009). There is an industry in the United States known as Tesla Poleward managed to come up with a rechargeable lithium ion battery in late 2015. This company's battery has two storage products. These are; the power packs for industrial use and the power wall for domestic use.
There have been negotiations on the solar power's ultimate drawback as energy source storage (Hans P. Zima, 2003). In the past decade, it has seen an improbable development of the PV industry. The way forward for solar which deals with an inexpensive storage solution which will truly make solar energy a justifiable renewable energy twenty-four hours a day. Even the solar batteries aforementioned are a storage option, but still, they are not cautiously sustainable for the ordinary (JEROME, 2011). Fortunately, MIT chief researchers' team Prof Grossman Jeffrey has spent much of their past times with some of his team researchers developing an alternative storage solution for solar, and the forgone alternative which the research team came up with was solar thermal fuels, which is commonly known as STFs (Jamret, 2009).
Advances in Solar Cell Manufacturing
Another way that advancement of technology of solar energy has been implemented is the sector of the manufacturing of the cells (Javier Fernandez de Canete, 2011). The scientist has concentrated on new means to advance the efficiency of these solar cells; this is based on how solar constituents are produced. When over about 90 percent the solar cells which are recently in the market are made of the silicon semiconductors, the significant component used in the conversion of sunlight into electricity, most people believe that the next generation of solar cells will be constructed of a very thin film coatings of cadmium telluride (Karl Johan Aström, 2010). This technology gives hope in the cost (that its cost will be much cheaper), but it will also be more efficient means of engaging the photovoltaic process. This material faces one drawback in that cadmium telluride is becoming highly unsteady during the process of manufacturing which presently employs the use of cadmium chloride.
The scientist has invented a safe, new and cost effective means of overcoming this obstacle by making use of a material known as Magnesium chloride instead of using Cadmium Chloride. Since Magnesium Chloride is highly abundant as it is obtained from the seawater, it becomes a low-cost resources which can be safely be used to perform the same function as the Cadmium Chloride, Magnesium is preferred too to Cadmium Chloride since Magnesium Chloride is non-toxic as opposed to the toxic Cadmium Chloride (Karna, 2011). When this replacement is done on the manufacturing progress the efficiency of these solar cells will be greatly improved from about two percent to about seventeen percent.
New Solar Applications
Many at a time when we talk about Solar PV systems what comes into our minds is a mounted for industrial scale or top roof domestic applications. But recently scientist has discovered many ways which are not conventional solar uses which would help the transformation of the industries completely. Firstly, Scientist is discovering ways to essentially line highways which are containing solar panels which would then be employed to give a large amount of electricity to the national grids. This would help to overwhelm a chief barrier in an industrial scale of solar power (Klee, 2007). These solar panel roadways have already been already pooped in the Netherland. These solar panels will also help to give electrical energy which can be used as well as in the new invention of the electric cars. With this, the car will run easily and effectively on the electricity as opposed to using of fuel which becomes very expensive as compared to the renewable source of electricity from the solar (Betty, 2009).
These solar roads are indicated by their unique ability to help generate a clean and reliable renewable energy. The roads incorporate the use of LED bulbs which are employed to light the roads when there is no light (at night). They also have the thermal ability to help melt snow during the winter seasons. All the experiments on these solar roads have been done what remains is to install the solar (Kluever, 2015). Secondly, there is a means to address the use of land linked with a large scale solar is to create solar plants on the water because of over about seventy percent of the earth's surface. This will enable the maximum capturing of the sunlight since it is captured in a wide view of the water surface. These solar panels are put/ hanged on the water surface where they cannot interfere with any water moving machines like ship or boats (Ochulloa, 2009). Wires from the panels are then taken to the land where the power is used to perform different operations. This technology will help in minimizing the use of solar panels on land or roof but maximize the output of electrical energy which is obtained from the solar energy.
Lastly, a scientist of late has revived a dead technology which was first experimented and tested over about forty years ago where the space-based satellite internment of sunlight and then converts it to electrical energy through the microwave energy which is radiated back to the Earth (LaMeres, 2013). This technology helps to capture substantially more quantity of sunlight of about ninety percent. This is true since it is possible to Position the satellite to optimize the on the amount of light which is captured round the clock. Some of the countries which have resurrected this kind of technology include; India, China, and Japan.
Advances in the solar panel efficiency
For the ancient few years, the solar industry has been in a race increase the solar efficiency to match that of the transformer. From the trials, some achievements have been made by various panel manufactures the panels' cell types. The solar cell used in the mainstream market could also realize major improvement in the cost per watt which is relatively cheap and affordable compared to the current ones (Liptak, 2009). There is also a research institute known as MIT which on May 2015 announced a new technology that could help to double the efficiency of the solar panel. The lab of MIT researchers exposed and non-harnessed thermal energy is a setback and prospect for the upgrading of solar energy technology; this means this innovation could aid the cost of solar to plummet even further.
Another important aspect of solar energy under the PV technology of the solar energy is the concentrated solar power (CSP). Concentrated solar power (CSP) is a system which generates solar energy by the use of mirrors and lenses which help to concentrate a large surface area of the sunlight or even thermal energy onto a minor surface area (M. Chidambaram, 2014). The generation of electricity is done when light which is concentrated is converted to heat which helps to energies heat energy. This heat formed is connected to an electrical generator as the prime mover in the generation or even in thermochemical reaction.
This concentrated solar power aims at a concentration of light to a to the solar PV cells which highly improves the generation of more electricity as the output power. This technology focuses on the converted light which results to thermal energy (Michigan, 2015). The plant of concentrated solar power consists of two sections which are fully employed during the generation of electricity using concentrated solar power. These two sections are; where section one is where a collection of solar energy is done, and then it is converted to heat. Section two is where the heat energy generated from the solar is converted into electricity. The diagram below shows the how the concentrated solar power.
Concentrated solar power systems or plants can incorporate thermal energy storage systems to help generate a lot of electrical energy when there is no solar isolation like during cloudy periods and also producing a lot of electricity even after several hours after the sunset (Möller, 2014). The concentrated solar power systems can combine a cycle power plant which results in the hybrid power plant. That will give high-value dispatchable power. These characteristics make the concentrated solar power the most appealing type of renewable source of energy choice in the Sunbelt locations. There are various design configurations which are employed in the design of this type of photovoltaic cells of solar.
Parabolic Trough System
In this design of the concentrated solar power, the solar energy is made to concentrate on the use of a parabolically curved and trench/ trough reflector on the pipe ( receiver pipe) which is made to run along the inside of the curved surface. The heat's temperature transfer fluid moving thru the pipe (always oil) is increased to 3930C from 2930C. After that, the heat energy is employed to create electricity in a conventional generator (Narciso F. Macia, 2013). The collector field is composed of several troughs in parallel rows which are always aligned on south-north axis. This design configuration permits single-axis gutter to trail the sun east to west during the day to ensure that the sun is continuously concentrated on the receiver pipes. The parabolic trough system is shown below;
This design can integrate thermal storage Putting aside the heat transfer liquid in its hot state. This will allow for the electricity generation many hours in the evening after the sun has set. Various parabolic trough plants employ the application of fossil fuel to enhance the solar output in the time of low solar energy. Typically an ordinary gas-fired heat or sometimes gas steam reheater is employed. This is the most advanced concentrated solar power. The world’s first concentrated solar plant which uses the parabolic configuration is in California (Tomasi, 2013). Currently, this technology is underway in Spain, and the information from the installers in Spain will lead to the improved long-term performance of these solar plant configurations but at the same time, it will lower the cost of the parabolic trough setup.
A few years after the first solar plant was bespoken the annual solar energy production of that first plant is much higher today than when the plant was first set up. This increase is due to the upgrade of the systems and higher operating procedures. These parabolic troughs are scalable and modular (Pedro Ponce-Cruz, 2010). The modularity is very significant for achieving low cost via large-scale production of components and their sub systems. The parabola’s ability to add more rows of troughs to help scale up to generate hundreds of megawatts makes this configuration be the best-forgone alternative to be used in solar power generation.
A parabolic trough system also has essential free storage of energy which will hinge on the size of the plant for generation of electricity (Tesla, 2012). This will offer electricity generation when there is no sunlight (at night or late in the evening) and also when the sun is blocked by the clouds. Bigger plant sizes thermal momentum of the generation of electricity can last for more than 30 minutes. This implies that electrical production and the output will remain constant or may change slightly during that time (30 minutes) when the cloud blocks the sunlight. This makes this system best for generation of electrical power as compared to other renewable sources like wind mill where if the prime mover stops then the generation of electricity also goes to a standstill.
Power Tower Systems
This is also referred to as the central receiver systems; it employs use of sun-tracking mirrors which are called Heliostat. These types of mirrors (heliostat) concentrate sunlight onto a receiver placed at the tower. Fluid in the receiver is heated up to around 6000 C which is then employed to engender steam which is then used in the conformist turbine generator to give electricity. Ancient power towers like the solar one Plant makes use of the steam as the heat transfer fluid. In the present designs uses molten nitrate salt because of its greater heat energy storage ability and high heat transfer. In other current designs, air is as heat transfer medium because of its greater temperature and also its decent hand ability (Predko, 2003). The figure below shows the Power Tower Systems;
The Heliostat mirrors are tilted to make the rays of light concentrated on the central receiver where contains the solar panels where thermal fluid are allocated in the central receiver where the generation of electricity. The hot fluid can be used to generate electricity immediately or later hours hence this design can help to generate electricity when there is no sunlight, and this is a great advantage of this kind of the configuration. A large number of flat and mirrors (heliostat) which tilt as the sun moves is put on the top of the tower. A fluid which is to be heated is put in the pipes in the receiver (Relf, 2010). This hot fluid is then used in a conventional turbine generator which will rotate the turbines and generates a renewable form of electricity which can be used in lighting among other functions. This advanced configuration experiments with high-temperature molten salt which helps to optimize the power cycle temperature. Currently, this type of latest technology is being installed in the United States where two scale powers operating on this latest technology are employed to generate this kind of clean and pollution free form of electrical energy (silver, 2015). The figure below shows the setup of the installed system;
Parabolic Dish system
These dishes constitute a parabolic-shapes point-focus concentrator in the form of a dish that reflects solar emission onto the receiver of the solar insolation at the focal point. This is true since all the light which are from the infinity will be reflected in the focal point (Rehab, 2013). These concentrators are put on a structure having two-axis tracking which follows the sun, as the sun moves the dish parabola will also tilt to follow the sun. The collected heat is usually used unswervingly by a heat engine are put on the receiver tilting with the dish parabola dish. To capture maximum sunlight in this configuration the dish assembly tracks the sunlight across the sky (Daviss, 2013). This dish engine system constitutes stand-alone reflectors (parabola). That focuses sunlight onto the receiver position in the focal point of the reflector. The parabolic system provides high efficiency of solar to electricity and also their modular nature offer scalability.
Linear Fresnel Systems:
This aims at capturing the sun's light energy s by use of large mirrors which reflects and also concentrates sunlight onto a linear receiver. On this receiver, there is a fluid which will be heated s by the heat from the sunlight and then employ it to generate electricity just like the other configurations of the design. Or it can dine in a different way where the steam can be greeted directly in the solar (Betty, 2009). This will exclude the necessity for expensive heat exchangers. Linear concentrating collectors is composed of many collectors which are in parallel in a row and are usually aligned in north-south orientation for optimum yearly and summer energy assembly.
This configuration ensures that the sunlight is reflected continuously onto the receiver tubes. Fresnel concentrates sunlight onto the tube where the operating fluid is pumped. Flat mirrors in the Fresnel reflectors offers more reflective surface in the same amount of the space than a parabolic concentrators. Hence, this will enable these reflectors to capture more sunlight and also very cost effective than those of that parabolic concentrators (Silva, 2012). This type of the concentrated solar plant system can be in various sizes. The following diagram shows the linear Fresnel reflectors,
This configuration entails the solar thermal energy in a greenhouse-like structure glasshouse (Zhang, 2001). The glasshouse will provide a sheltered environment to help tolerate the elements which can negatively result in consistency and also the competence of the solar thermal systems. In this system, the lightweight curved solar mirrors are put on the upper surface of the glasshouse where these mirrors are hanged by wires. The maximum amount of light is realized in this configuration by positioning the mirrors by employing single-axis tracking system. The mirrors used here focus light and then concentrate it on a linkage of immobile steel plates.
These linkages of immobile steel pipes are also suspended on the glasshouse together with the mirrors (Singhal, 2012). Water is made to move throughout the pipe; this water is boiled to produce a steam when high solar radiation is applied to these pipes carrying water. The mirrors are covered from the strong winds which make them attain greater temperature rates and also avoid dust from entering the building up on where the mirrors are placed. The concentrated solar energy in this configuration can help in several applications which beyond the generation of electricity. Enclosed trough is introduced by Glass Point Solar (Sun, 2016). The generators in the trough steam are adaptable to perplexing the environments and meet all the necessities of the enhanced oil recovery. In this glasshouse, troughs are bounded in improved agricultural glasshouse (Tomasi, 2013). These glasshouses can sometimes be employed as a greenhouse where several crops are planted, and the necessary parameters required by the crops are met like setting the temperature depending on the requirement of the crop. If it is used in agriculture, it will make a good greenhouse for planting different crops.
This configuration gives a totally new technology approach in the design and making of these focusing light, solar concentrators. The configuration is highly guarded by the structures which are glass-skinned in simplified greenhouse setups (Zaracuski, 2011). When the solar plant has a solar field footprint of about 17,300 m2, it will have an output which is more than seven Megawatts of thermal energy. The figure below shows a prototype of an enclosed trough configuration.
Since there is no wind force subjected to the collectors, the lightweight reflectors can give consistently a greater optical precision. The total weight of the mirror plus the frame is taken as 4.2Kg/m2. This lightweight will permit a simple cable dive system. The low weight of the collectors offers simple and fully suspended of the entire system during the installation. The fixed receiver in the system offers a very modest, high pressure, free of ball joint safe risk and also the maintenance necessities (kind, 2013). The direct steam system will evade other unnecessary costs which are incurred in the use of the older technology. These older technology where these unnecessary costs were incurred may include the use of the heat exchanger, storage, transfer fluid conditioning and also manage the hazardous fire in such setup.
The latest receiver technology is applied where 60 mm receiver containing an air stable with selective absorbers setups and convention shields glass. The troughs used in this setup are supported from the collectors of the system using similar rods. The figure below shows the structure of the glasshouse which employs the enclosed trough configuration of the concentrated solar power (Boysen, 2012).
This new technology is already implemented in Oman, this technology help in generation of lot electricity by the help of the heated water which generates the steam and then the generated steam is used in the rotating of the turbines which in turn generate a renewable clean source of electricity (damjui, 2016). Conversion of the solar energy to heat to generate steam and then later to use the steam to generate electrical power is more efficient than generating electricity directly from the solar panels.
In summary, the new technology which is in solar energy specifically the new technology on the PV solar panel will of a great deal improve the life of a human in this and coming century. This technology like the concentration of solar power will make the generation of electricity very cheap and highly efficient to be used. With the new technology of the storage of solar energy, the notion of use as produced will never have meaning again as the energy will be stored and used when the need arise. This will help to avoid any loss of power which always arises if the solar cannot be stored.
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