Developments made in Solar Technology

Developments made in Solar Technology

Solar power systems have become increasingly more accessible to a wider population as technological developments and incentives placed by the Australian government have reduced the high costs of installing a solar power system. The price of solar PV panels have decreased by 60% and the cost of the solar electricity system by 50% according to the Energy.gov report. So solar energy is now competitive with traditional energy sources and a great alternative to help move towards a greener earth.

Solar systems now require a much lower initial investment compared to what it was like when solar technology was newly developed. The running costs for maintaining a solar power system once it is installed are less and the initial investment is regained over time with all the savings solar helps you make leading to subsequent savings in energy costs. This happens because the input for solar energy is free and clean sunlight while fossil fuels are mined and transported over long distance. The costs to deal with environmental problems from use of "dirty power sources" double or even triple the cost of electricity from conventional sources like coal. Solar energy is important to help offset and potentially eliminate, these additional costs by depending on a sustainable and renewable source of power with the help of solar technology.

Solar power has also positively impacted the Australian job market with the generation of many job opportunities. The transition towards solar power has created thousands of jobs in the country.

The aim has been to develop solar technology to improve the efficiency of solar panels and to manufacture them at lower costs to make them even more accessible to the population.

Another important field of development in the solar world is the developments made to creating and improving the capacity of batteries to store solar energy at times of surplus for later use to increase efficiency and ensure a continuous supply. Lithium-ion batteries in combination with software, and new "polymer-hybrid supercapacitors" being developed would help drive down costs more making it easier for people to gain an independence from the grid.

Regardless of the specifics of a given installation, there are two main types of solar energy technologies—photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). Most people are familiar with PV technology because of the solar panels they see more and more on the tops of buildings or ones placed on the International Space Station. When the sun shines onto one of those solar panels, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow. PV installations may be ground-mounted, rooftop mounted or wall mounted. They may be mounted in a permanent orientation to maximize production and value or they may be mounted on trackers that follow the sun across the sky. Rooftop PV panels make solar power viable in virtually every part of Australia. In a sunny location such as Sydney, a five-kilowatt residential system produces an average of 7,000 to 8,000 kilowatt-hours per year, roughly equivalent to the electricity usage of a typical Australian household.

The second technology is concentrating solar power (also called concentrated solar thermal and CSP). It is used primarily in very large power plants and is not appropriate for residential use. This technology uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. The heat is used to drive a heat engine, usually a steam turbine, that is connected to an electrical power generator which is then used to produce electricity.

Our future clearly depends on our ability to utilize solar and other renewable sources of energy. Expanding technologies, tax incentives, and utility companies adapting to solar customers are all encouraging developments in the field of solar energy.

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