solar power efficiency
2:24am 24th August 2010
What are the factors that are important in efficiently harvesting solar power - we look at what they are..
In order to be efficient in collecting solar power you need to get the following elements correct.
1. Solar access
The solar panel
should be able to 'see' the Sun directly without being overshadowed by buildings or trees. This is of particular importance for the current generation of solar panels, as any shadow falling on the cells will result in those cells not conducting electricity and greatly reducing the efficiency of the whole panel.
2. Angle of inclination
To get the most Sun the panel must be angled to be 'square on' to the Sun. Now given that the Sun raises and falls during the day and that exact height in the sky changes from Summer to Winter (key element of Passive Solar
design) - you can either have a tracking mount that not only 'follows' the Sun across the sky but also changes its angle to match the Sun's height. This can be beneficial for large solar panels, but smaller panels often are on fixed mounts with just the ability to change the mounting angle season to season to get the best 'average' Sun without tracking.
3. Efficiency of transfer
If you are producing electricity you need to make sure that the cables are sufficient 'thick' (i.e. gauge) to keep the resistance (and hence power loss) down to a minimum for the required cable run distance. Similarly if heating water directly all pipes need to be fully lagged.