A Fresh Squeeze
- Sustainable Development
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- Solar Panels
- Photovoltaic Panels
- Solar Cells
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Photovoltaic panels, which are also referred to as PV panels, generate power through the conversion of solar radiation, from the sun, to direct current electricity. Photovoltaic power generation uses solar panels, made up of numerous solar cells, which contain a photovoltaic material. Photovoltaic solar panels are growing in popularity, and more than 100 countries now use solar photovoltaic systems. PV panels can be ground-mounted, or installed into the roof or walls of buildings, which is referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics.
With the demand for renewable energy sources on the rise, the manufacture of PV cells has increased dramatically in the last few years. The production of PV panels has been increasing by approximately 20 percent every year since 2002, which makes it the world’s most rapidly growing energy technology, at this time. Due to advances in photovoltaic technology, and a rise in manufacturing scale, the cost of PV panels has significantly declined since the very first PV cells were made. The price of PV panels has decreased substantially since summer 2008, which now makes solar energy competitive with the price of grid electricity in many countries enjoying high levels of sun exposure.
Until around 10 years ago, photovoltaic technology was used, most often, to power calculators and other such devices. Advances in integrated circuits, and low power liquid crystal displays, have made it possible to power these devices for many years before battery replacement is required. This has made the use of photovoltaic systems less common, for such devices. At the opposite end of the spectrum, PV solar power technology has increased in use, quite recently, in areas where connection costs make grid power far too expensive. The uses in these areas include parking meters, emergency telephones, trash compactors, water pumps and temporary traffic signs and signals.
For optimum performance, photovoltaic systems need to have the longest possible exposure to the sun. Solar trackers achieve this by moving the photovoltaic panels to follow the sun’s movement in the sky. The improvement in performance, due to these solar trackers, can be up to 20 percent during winter and up to 50 percent in the summer. The performance of the systems that are static mounted can be optimized by sun-path analysis. In this case, PV panels are set to latitude tilt. However, it is possible to improve performance further by adjusting the angle of tilt, according to sun exposure and positioning during each season.
Photovoltaic panels are a popular source of renewable energy, and are becoming increasingly popular as an element of sustainable living for many people around the world.