In a world whose power consumption is going off the charts, the need to find an alternative reliable power source is paramount. Many alternative sources like hydel, wave and wind are very good and efficient. But the most commercially viable source is solar energy. The sun is the star that supports all life on earth and it nourishes the earth with over 3.85 million exajoules of energy per year. This is more energy in one hour than the world used in one year. The amount received in a year is so vast that, in one year the sun gives off more than twice the energy that could ever be obtained from non-renewable sources like coal, oil, natural gas and uranium combined.
Solar energy is barely a tapped resource, and with so much potential there should be no reason to leave it in that manner. The most common and efficient way to utilize this energy is the photovoltaic solar panel. A PV solar panel packs a combination of 6 photovoltaic solar cells. Each such module is rated under its DC output, which can range from 100-350 watts. The efficiency of each module determines its area, for example, an 8% efficient 230W module will have twice the area as that of a 16% 230W module. It is hard to achieve high levels of efficiency and some commercially available panels can achieve efficiencies of 22-24%.
A single module can only produce so much power; hence it is usually a photovoltaic system consists of an array of any modules, an inverter, a battery pack for storage, and sometimes a solar tracking mechanism. For more add-ons, one can quite easily find the best solar accessories online. A photovoltaic system is also referred to as a Balance of System (BOS), and convert light directly into electricity. These arrays can be as small as a rooftop mounted and integrated building systems delivering a few tens of kilowatts of energy to utility-scale power stations capable of supplying hundreds of megawatts. Most systems are also grid-connected and only a fraction of them are off-grid systems.
Due to its exponential growth, prices have rapidly declined in recent times. And its ability to recoup invested energy for installation in a year or two and produces over 95 of net clean energy in a 30-year lifespan. Places like the United States sell their modules at the rate of 2.4 dollars per watt in a 5kW system, and places, where it is already in extensive usage like Germany, sell it at 1.2 Euros per watt in a 100kW system. PV modules nowadays account for less than fifty percent of the system’s total cost. These systems also operate silently and without any environmental emissions or any moving parts. A few years back they used to be a niche market application and now they are a commercially viable technology used for mainstream electricity generation.
India is adopting it widely and the government even provides subsidies for installation and purchase of photovoltaic systems. To make it even more enticing one can find solar accessories in India in any big e-commerce site.