Features Of Solar Energy In USA
Solar energy systems harness the sun’s rays to produce electricity or heat. Utility-scale solar power plants are mostly found in the Southwest of the United States. Smaller rooftop photovoltaic cells and hot water systems, on the other hand, work well everywhere. Despite having some of the world’s best solar resources, solar energy only represented 0.4 percent of the country’s energy production in 2014.
The expensive cost of getting started has been a major barrier to mainstream adoption. However, spending has declined in recent years. The federal government provides tax credits, and certain states provide additional incentives. Germany, for example, has used regulatory measures such as “feed-in tariffs” to become the world’s largest producer of solar energy. The current industry in the United States is growing and employs 173,807 people.
The energy of the sun can be harnessed in two ways. Passive systems receive the most heat or light from the sun due to how they are built, where they are positioned, or what they are made of. Active systems contain technology that turn solar energy into something more useful, such as hot water or electricity.
Systems That Are Passive
Passive solar space heating, as opposed to using electricity, natural gas, or other active energy systems, is a simple and cost-effective approach to harness the sun’s free, renewable energy. By properly arranging, aligning, and using the right materials, the temperature within a structure can be effectively adjusted. Large south-facing windows, shade trees, and Trombe walls, which are made of materials that absorb heat during the day and gradually release it at night, can benefit both new and old structures.
When built on the south side of a structure, sunspaces or glass rooms can heat up to 60% of a residence in the winter. If a facility is appropriately insulated and vented, solar energy can be utilized in any environment.
In an active solar space heating system, heat from the sun is collected by a collector that contains a heat-transfer medium such as air or liquid. The heat is then circulated throughout the structure using electric fans or pumps. Because there are no ready-made solar heating systems for homes, anyone interested must commission a custom design from a specialized engineering firm.
Depending on the size of the area, these specialized devices might cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. Active solar heating systems can pay for themselves in 7 to 10 years by saving money on electricity or natural gas.
Active solar water heaters are solar water heaters that use the sun’s heat to heat water for homes, businesses, and swimming pools. These heaters are one of the most popular ways to use renewable energy because they are economical and simple to install. If the proper type is installed, they heat well no matter how cold it is outside. Solar water heaters typically require a backup gas or electric water heater on overcast days or when there is a high demand for water.
A solar water heater has two components: a solar collector and a storage tank. In warm regions, collectors directly heat water; in cold climates, they heat a denser fluid and then carry it to a water tank, where it indirectly heats the water. Depending on the climate and time of day, the heater can be designed with either an active or passive mechanism for circulating heated fluid. The greatest temperature that a collector may attain varies per model, but the water can reach temperatures of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough for industrial use.
Solar water heaters can reduce the amount of energy used to heat water in homes by up to 75% and in workplaces by up to 60%. Despite the fact that installing a solar water heater in a home costs between $1,500 and $3,000, which is at least twice as much as a standard heater, the savings on gas or electric bills over the heater’s 15- to 20-year lifespan make it equal to or less expensive than other water heaters in the long run.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, often known as solar cells, are an active system that converts sunlight into electricity via small panels coated in semiconducting material. When sunlight strikes the panel, this material, which is typically made of silicon but could theoretically be made of other polycrystalline thin films, generates a direct current. PV cells can be found in all 50 states, from Alaska to Alabama. Under ideal conditions, commercially available PV panels can convert sunlight into electricity up to 22.5 percent of the time.
Even when it’s partly cloudy, they can work at 80% of their maximum capacity. Thin-film technology developed in the United States allows PV cells to be put on windows and roof tiles. PV systems can be customized to meet the energy requirements of a building by adding solar concentrators, solar trackers, DC-AC converters, and/or batteries.
PV systems can be connected to the electric transmission grid or not. PV systems linked to the transmission grid can complement utilities’ energy supply throughout the day, when demand is often highest. Individual PV cells can power a range of equipment, such as personal calculators and lamps, as well as water pumps on ranches and in remote villages that do not have access to power lines. A few large-scale PV systems have been built, however they can only produce energy during the day and are usually more expensive to build than fossil fuel facilities.