Solar Energy – Scholarly Paper

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Electricity is one of the largest commodities used as it is essential to our day-to-day activities. Currently, it is generated mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, a non-renewable naturally occurring resource. Fossil fuels however, once burned emit greenhouse gases that pose a significant threat on the earth’s climate. Global Warming, the warming of the earth’s crust, occurs due to a buildup of these greenhouse gases at the earth’s atmosphere. These gases act as a reflective layer that doesn’t allow the reflected UV rays from the earth to leave the atmosphere thus raising the temperature of the planet. The electrical sector is said to be one of the biggest contributors of these harmful gases and thus needs to be targeted for change.

Solar Energy is one of the chosen methods of replacing fossil fuel combustion. Solar Energy is harvesting the natural energy from the sun and using that to create electricity that can be used for daily activity. A solar system is made up of a variety of parts:

  • Solar Panel: Instrument that converts the sun’s energy into electricity
  • Battery: stores the generated electricity
  • Inverter: converts the stored direct current electricity from the battery into usable alternating current
  • Controller: protects the solar system from over charging

Each Part plays a significant role in the creation of electricity. However, just like any system the highest efficiency is desired especially in this case if solar is to replace fossil fuels. Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity however, the efficiency of the panel to do so varies according to how much sun light it gets. To fix this, calculations of how to properly orient a solar panel must be performed for your specific geographical position. For example, in winter months the correct tilt for a horizontally positioned solar panels would be your geographical latitude + 15.6°, for summer its tilt would be the latitude – 15.6° and for an average all year tilt it would just be the latitude degree. The total voltage and current from the solar system can also be manipulated by either connecting the solar panels in series or parallel. Connecting solar panels in series gives rise to an increased voltage as the voltage across each panel will be added compared to connecting panels in parallel would provide an increased current from the addition of each panel’s current.

By implementing a solar system commercially or residentially two major benefits can be seen. Financially, the annual savings achieved can be substantial. In the case of a Boston College that added solar panels to their buildings they achieved a drop in their annual electricity utility bill from USD$71,881.17 to USD$55,134.50 providing them with savings of USD$16,746.67 annually. On the other hand, the environmental benefit is what makes solar energy the ideal replacement for fossil fuels. A study conducted in California USA provided statistics of the amount of Carbon Dioxide, CO2 emitted that would be avoided if up to 60% of residential homes were to be fitted with solar systems. If a total of 7,546,498 homes were to install a solar system 46,299,025 metric tons of CO2 emitted would be avoided.


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