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Argonne is providing support to the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the preparation of a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) evaluating the impacts of utility-scale solar energy development. The joint PEIS will evaluate alternative management strategies to determine which presents the best management approach for the agencies to adopt in terms of mitigating potential impacts and facilitating solar energy development while carrying out their respective missions.

A solar farm is a large area installed with multiple ground-mount solar tracking towers. Solar farms are different from building-mounted and other decentralized solar energy applications as they provide solar power to utilities rather than for local grids. The size of solar plants available in utility-scale solar farms ranges from 10 MW to more than 200 MW. Reports state that approximately 25 acres of land is required for every 5 MW installations that can power 1515 houses.

Solar farms cover a large area of land, and hence they are commonly developed in rural areas. Thorough planning procedures are required to get approval for the construction of solar farms. Planning includes consideration of suitability of the site, relevant renewable energy targets and any impact on the locality.

Benefits of Solar Farms

Solar farms are a simple way of producing safe, renewable and locally produced energy for several years after construction. There are a number of key benefits of solar farming, which are as follows:

  • The land used for constructing solar farms provides a better habitat for wildlife and plants. The land around the solar panels is generally grass-land that can be maintained with hedges. Alternatively, animal grazing between the rows of installed panels and in the ground under the panels is also possible
  • Solar farms receive a great return on investment, mainly when electricity bill savings, maintenance costs and reassurance of guaranteed income are considered. Solar feed-in-tariffs are applicable in some instances. Recent advancements and cost reductions such as financing incentives in addition to the reduction in costs to build solar panels will further make solar farming easier than before

/Aside from the obvious financial benefits posed by solar energy, there are other advantages available as well.    Face it, solar energy is definitely the future trend of energy. Nowadays, many households have converted home to be powered solely by solar power, reaping all the advantages offered by the sun.

Here are some good reasons for using solar energy to power your home.

1. Cut-down electricity bill
The key reason that most households convert their power source to solar energy is to cut down their electrical bill because the electrical usage generated from the sun is free. By converting as many home appliances as possible to use solar energy, you can save a significant savings in your utilities expenses.

1. Renewable

Solar energy is a renewable energy source. This means that we cannot run out of solar energy, as opposed to non-renewable energy sources (e.g. fossil fuels, coal and nuclear).

We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA[1]. We have worse things to worry about; in fact, scientists have estimated that the sun itself will swallow Earth 5 billion years from now.

2. Abundant

The potential of solar energy is beyond imagination. The surface of the earth receives 120,000 terawatts of solar radiation (sunlight) – 20,000 times more power than what is needed to supply the entire world.[2]

3. Sustainable

An abundant and renewable energy source is also sustainable. Sustainable energy sources meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In other words, solar energy is sustainable because there is no way we can over-consume.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Harnessing solar energy does generally not cause pollution. However, there are emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation and installation of solar power systems – almost nothing compared to most conventional energy sources. It is clear that solar energy reduces our dependence on non-renewable energy sources. This is an important step in fighting the climate crisis.

5. Good Availability

Solar energy is available all over the world. Not only the countries that are closest to the Equator can put solar energy to use – Germany, for example, has by far the highest capacity of solar power in the world.

Inverters:

Domestic inverters are typically used for energy storage to be utilized in the event of power outage. The higher the number of batteries you have the higher the storage capacity you achieve.

Fact 1: battery manufacturers promise a battery life of more than five years, and depending on the technology, some even boast of up to ten years. Usage is a key factor in determining how long your batteries will last: the more frequent your batteries discharge fully (i.e. you hear the beeping sound or the inverter shuts down) before recharging, the shorter the life of the batteries.

Reality: Most batteries in Nigeria today hardly offer useful life after four years, it is common to see battery replacement only after two years. Most people are ignorant of the dangers of allowing the batteries to discharge fully during power outages.

Solar energy exists in abundance all over the globe, but not every place would be suitable for solar PV panels, solar thermal collectors or other means of converting sunlight into useful energy.

“Where in the world is the potential of solar energy the greatest?” would be a better question. A world insolation map is the best answer:

 

global-irradiance

The solar radiation (insulation) map is based on values from Metronome.

Warmer colors indicate higher solar energy density (insulation, solar radiation, sunlight). As you can see from the map, insolation tends to be higher the closer we get to the equator.

Our sun has been shining for over four and a half billion years. However, humans have only known about solar power since the 1830s, when Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. We don’t know why inventors always have such cool names, but we do know a slew of solar power facts—as it happens, we have 50 spotlighted below. Read on to learn about where in the world solar energy is the most popular, how solar power impacts our health, how much solar panels cost, and much more.

Solar Power Basics

  1. Solar power harnesses the natural energy of the sun to produce electricity. Specifically, solar cells capture certain wavelengths of solar radiation and convert them to electricity for our homes, calculators, and more.
  2. Photovoltaic cells in solar panels cause a reaction between photons and electrons on an atomic scale. When photons (light rays) collide with electrons, the electrons get catapulted loose. Then, the electrons are captured and channeled into usable electricity. Pretty neat, huh?

Solar cells will play a key role in shifting to a renewable economy. Organic photovoltaics (OPVs) are a promising class of solar cells, based on a light-absorbing organic molecule combined with a semiconducting polymer.

OPVs are made from inexpensive, lightweight materials, and benefit from good safety as well as easy production. However, their power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) - the ability to convert light into electricity - are still too low for full-scale commercialization.

In the solar energy sphere, scientists and economists alike will note that coming up with cheaper, most efficient solar cells is key to the industry’s growth. And now, many experts are arguing that an emerging type of technology, known as the “perovskite” solar cell, is the face of the future.

Solar cells, the devices that convert solar energy into electricity, only come in so many forms at the moment. Most of the ones in commercial use are made of silicon. But while these silicon cells dominate the market, they’re far from perfect — on average, they’re only able to achieve 16 to 20 percent efficiency when it comes to converting solar energy, said Michael McGehee, a professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University. And they can be expensive both to produce and to install.

This is your gateway to a career in the solar industry.  It all starts with the fundamentals, and a solid understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications for PV systems. 

Other topics include site analysis, system sizing, array configuration, and performance estimation; electrical design characteristics such as wiring, overcurrent protection, and grounding; a detailed look at module and inverter specifications and characteristics; mounting methods for various roof structures and ground­mounts; and an introduction to safely and effectively commissioning grid-­direct PV systems. 

This course focuses on grid-­direct PV systems, the largest and fastest growing segment of the PV industry, but covers material critical to understanding all types of PV systems.  These core concepts are expanded on in SEI’s upper ­level PV courses, which focus more specifically on particular system types, applications and design methodologies.