Solar Power is a sustainable source of power in which technology is used to exploit the energy from the sun. Such power is free from pollution and doesn’t lead to the emission of greenhouse gases during its generation and solar power usage.
Solar power is a clean & replenishable power that is abundantly available across the year. A solar energy plant harnesses the sunlight for solar power generation.
Notably, the sunlight is bountiful and inexhaustible, and we can utilise it to power up our homes and business premises.
Considering on a large scale, a solar energy plant uses diversified techniques for solar energy generation via the natural source of heat, i.e., the sun. It minimises the dependence on fossil fuels & other conventional energy sources.
What is a Solar Power Factory?
A Solar Power Factory is a photovoltaic (PV) power station, also called a solar farm or solar power plant. In this, there is a large-scale system of PV power. It is a grid-connected system intended for the commercial supply of solar power.
The solar energy generation in a solar power factory is different from the domestic & decentralised solar power systems. They supply power at the large-scale or utility level other than to a local user(s).
Functioning of Solar Power Plants: The Technological Aspect
A solar energy plant is a premise embracing facility that implements sustainable conversion of sunlight into electrical energy, either directly or indirectly.
A commercial-level solar energy plant functions to collect energy from the sun. The light from the sun aids in boiling water that drives a steam turbine to generate electricity.
The electricity is then supplied to numerous local folks. It functions much similarly to nuclear or coal-based power plants.
Solar power plants utilise one of these technologies:
- Photovoltaic systems: PV Systems involve the usage of solar panels to directly transmute sunlight into electricity. Such panels are installed in the ground region of solar farms or rooftops.
- Concentrated solar power systems: CSP plants facilitate solar power usage to create steam. With the help of turbines, this steam is then transformed into electrical energy.
Most of the developed nations with high-level of industrialisation harness solar energy. Such countries have implemented considerable solar power generation facilities into their grids. It offers a feasible option in place of sources of conventional energy.
Remarkably, there is a rise in the number of developing nations leveraging benefits from solar power usage. It helps them to curtail their dependence on costly foreign fuels. It facilitates remotely accessible renewable energy resources instead of fossil fuels.
Major Factors Influencing Solar Power Generation
Here are the major factors influencing the solar power generation by a solar energy plant:
- Design and installation of the system – The configuration, tilt, & orientation of the system should be feasible.
- Temperature – Constant high temperatures lead to a negative impact.
- Dust-Accumulation – Dust or soiling on panels blocks sun rays from reaching the cells, leading to inefficient power generation.
- A mismatch between Modules – The modules should have similar electrical attributes to prevent loss of productivity.
- Shading obstruction over panels – Shaded panels lack significant solar energy generation capacity.
- Age of solar panels – Old solar panels produce less energy. The performance decreases with time.
- The efficiency of Inverter – Inverters offer higher productivity when the input power is higher.
Glance Through Solar Power Usage
There are wonderful uses of solar energy for domestic and commercial purposes. Households use solar power for:
- Cooking, space heating, and cooling.
- Solar distillation.
- Solar hot water systems.
- Water heating for swimming pools.
- Indoor & outdoor lighting.
Stored solar power acts as a backup during emergencies.
On the other hand, businesses and industries have similar power usage but at a greater level. They use solar power to expand their sources of energy, enhance their productivity, and save money.
The commercial or utility-scale solar factories can generate enough electricity to power the whole city. Moreover, solar-powered vehicles will be the future. Many e-vehicles use solar photovoltaic batteries instead of conventional fuel.
Key Advantages and Limitations of Solar Power
- Low maintenance cost – Unless there is an obstruction, solar power plants don’t demand much maintenance.
- Savings on power bills – It helps reduce power consumption from conventional sources.
- Sustainable energy generation – A Solar energy plant generates clean & sustainable energy to meet future needs.
- Broad Range of Usability – Solar power has different uses like cooking, water heating, charging batteries, etc.
- Requirement of significant space – Abundant space is required to set up a solar energy plant.
- Soaring upfront cost – There is a high initial cost involved in the installation of a solar power plant.
- Pricey storage of energy – The storage of energy demands expensive arrangements.
Harnessing solar power is the need of the hour as it has magnificent potential. It can lay the foundation for a future with cleaner energy consumption.
It is true that even after witnessing growth in the solar industry, solar power may not replace fossil fuels immediately. Various roadblocks are still there in the path of solar power usage.
Also, one needs to pay a high investment cost initially to set up a solar energy plant. But, it helps to considerably decrease the consumption of non-renewable energy. Besides, the upfront installation cost can be recovered within 3 to 5 years.
1. What are the aspects on which solar energy generation depends?
The solar power generation of a system (or plant) depends on several conditions. The major factors are the latitude of an area, the current season, and the weather conditions (cloudy or clear sky).
2. Can solar power be generated at night?
Solar power can be generated to some extent, even on a cloudy day. But, it cannot be generated at night as the solar panels work on the principle of the photovoltaic effect.
This phenomenon only works in daylight when solar cells get hit by direct sunlight. It leads to the production of electricity.
Notably, solar power can be stored for use when there is no availability of sunlight. It facilitates independence from the grid.
3. What are the challenges while setting up a solar power plant?
Following are the challenges faced while setting up a solar power plant:
- There is a weather-dependent level of output and no energy production at night.
- The cost of upfront investment can be very exorbitant for developing nations.
- Availability of vast space is a chief factor in solar power plant installation.