The Future Of Energy: How Solar Technology Is Advancing Sustainability

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The solar panel was invented back in the 1880s but it wasn’t until some 100 years later that technology really started to advance. Growing up in the 90s, I remember some of the first examples of houses having solar panels installed. Although, it’s reported that this technology was widely available to the public by the 1980s.

However, back then, solar panels were not viewed in the same way as they are now and the technology was not as reliable. Today, continued advances are being made to ensure that solar energy is as reliable as possible.

If you were under the impression that solar power wasn’t going to be enough to power your home and save you money then think again. Things have seriously moved forward and in this article, I’d like to introduce you to some of the latest advances towards sustainability.  

What Is Solar Power And How Does It Work?

Solar power is quite simply energy from the sun which can be converted into electricity to power the lights and appliances within your home.

We harvest this energy through the use of solar panels which are the most basic, yet essential form of solar technology.

A solar panel is made from a semiconductor material, quite often silicon which is installed inside a frame made from metal and the whole thing is encased in glass. Light from the sun hits the solar panels and this causes the semiconductor material to release electrons which produce a charge.

Off the back of this, the charge creates an electric current and this gets caught up in the wiring that’s found within your solar panels. At this time, what you’ve got is a DC current but this must be converted to an AC current in order to be used with the appliances in your house. Therefore, solar panels also contain an inverter which completes this process and the current then runs directly into your home for you to use.

The Latest In Solar Technology

I remember some of the old solar panels and how unreliable they were but we’ve come a long way since then. In fact, the latest advances in solar technology are pretty impressive and have made solar energy a realistic option for homeowners and businesses all over the world in their journey to becoming more sustainable.

Power Optimisers By SolarEdge

SolarEdge is a leader in the renewable energy field and was the first company to successfully lawn a power optimiser. In simple terms, a power optimiser is a device that is designed to maximise the output of solar panels and is individually added to each panel in order to increase its productivity.

According to information from SolarEdge, their power optimisers are connected to each module using a cable. They are then able to detect the maximum power point of each panel, allowing it to perform optimally.

The great thing about this technology is that it works even when there are potential interruptions to the panels including debris, shading and ageing of the panels.

What’s more, without power optimisers, it only takes one of your solar panels to be interrupted and the entire system could be affected. With power optimisers in place, any single disturbance to a panel won’t affect the remaining panels so your home can continue generating its own energy.

Solar Batteries

It’s one thing having solar panels installed on your home and that’s a great start. But if you’re looking to become fully self-sufficient then you’re going to need a way to store the power that your panels generate.

That’s where solar batteries come in. Sometimes called solar power storages, these batteries are able to hold onto any generated energy until you need to use it.

If you’re looking to reduce, or even completely eradicate your reliance on the grid then solar batteries are a must. Consider that your solar panels are only powered during the day when the sun is present (Modern panels also do not need to be exposed to full, direct sunlight; they’ll even charge when it’s overcast.) To this end, your panels won’t be powered at night so solely relying on them means that your home will lose power once the sun goes down.

But with the simple addition of solar batteries, you can continue using that harvested energy throughout the night and even during a power cut.

Smart Grids

It seems that everything is going ‘smart’ these days and the grid is no exception. When we refer to the grid, we are talking about the network of lines, substations and transformers that are responsible for sending electrical energy to homes and businesses all over the country.

But the latest advances in technology mean that we now have a smart grid. But what exactly is this?

Quite simply, the smart grid uses digital technology to allow communication between the energy supplier and the end user.

Having this updated technology comes with many benefits but, at the time of writing, this isn’t something that has been nationally implemented and tests are still ongoing to ensure the reliability of the system.

But let’s consider some of the main benefits of the smart grid:

  • Energy will be transmitted more efficiently
  • Fewer disturbances to power and faster restoration when this does occur
  • Reduced energy costs to the end user owing to a reduction in operation and management costs
  • The ability to integrate renewable energy systems on a much larger scale
  • Improved security

How Can Solar Power Make Your Property More Sustainable?

There’s a heavy focus on being sustainable at the moment and that’s not going to change. Because of the effects of carbon emissions and climate change, people are now looking at ways to mitigate these effects and reduce their carbon output.

The main problem with traditional energy sources using fossil fuels is that they all release tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. This carbon is what’s responsible for climate change which has its own plethora of devastating effects.

While it’s unlikely that humanity will be able to completely reverse the impact we’ve already had on the environment, we can try to lessen some of the effects and prevent future damage.

Choosing solar power is just one of the ways that you can become more sustainable. Since solar energy is a renewable energy source, there’s no worry about carbon emissions because there simply aren’t any created by it.

Other Benefits Of Solar Power

Improving your efforts to become more sustainable is just one of the many benefits of turning to solar energy. If you have been considering installing solar technology in your home then the following advantages may be enough to help you make the decision.

Save Money On Energy

Installing solar panels is going to incur some costs but these will soon be earned back in the amount of money you’ll save on your electricity bills. It’s reported that homeowners can save up to a massive 70% on their energy bills just by installing solar technology.

Of course, the amount you save will be dependent on the type of technology you have. For example, if you choose to install solar batteries, as I discussed above, then this means that you’ll be even less reliant on the grid and can still make use of your generated energy, even when the sun goes down.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s the option to sell any unused energy back to the grid which is a great way of earning a little extra money and will help you to break even much more quickly.

Add Value To Your Property

According to property experts, Yopa, the addition of solar technology could increase the value of your property by up to 14%.

How much value the solar installation adds will naturally vary from property to property but one thing is for sure, it definitely won’t take away any value.

In a property climate that is hugely volatile, increasing the value of your home is never a bad thing.

Stop Relying On The Grid

As I have mentioned, installing solar batteries is a great way to reduce your reliance on the grid and continue using your generated power even when the solar panels are not being powered by the sun.

But there’s another advantage to this, and that’s when blackouts occur. I can think of nothing more frustrating than going about my day only to be interrupted by a power cut. It’s only then that I truly realise how much I rely on the electrical appliances in my home.

However, with solar panels and batteries, you can continue powering your home even when everyone else is sitting in the dark.

Low Maintenance

The initial cost of solar panels can be off-putting to some people but it’s important to remember that there are government grants available.

What’s more, solar technology is incredibly reliable and, once installed, requires very little maintenance. In fact, in most cases, a solar panel won’t need any remedial work for at least 25 to 30 years after its installation.

Final Thoughts

Becoming more sustainable is something that’s on everyone’s mind at the moment. However, in the past solar technology has had a bad reputation and many people are under the impression that it’s not as reliable as using power from the grid.

While this technology advanced, there was no denying that it wasn’t always the most reliable option. However, things have come on so far that many homes are solely powered using solar energy and they experience no issues whatsoever.

This is thanks to the amazing technological advances we are now able to get our hands on. From storing unused power to devices that make your solar panels work at their very best, there’s never been a better time to consider solar power in your efforts to become more sustainable.

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