What is Solar Power?
Solar energy is used worldwide. Solar power is generated in two main ways: the first way, photovoltaics (PV), also called solar cells, are electronic devices that convert sunlight directly into electricity. The modern solar cell is likely an image most people would recognize – they are in the panels installed on houses and in calculators. They were invented in 1954 at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the United States. Today, PV is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies, and is ready to play a major role in the future global electricity generation mix.
The second way, concentrated solar power (CSP), uses mirrors to concentrate solar rays. These rays heat fluid, which creates steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity. CSP is used to generate electricity in large-scale power plants. A CSP power plant usually features a field of mirrors that redirect rays to a tall thin tower. One of the main advantages of a CSP power plant over a solar PV power plant is that it can be equipped with molten salts in which heat can be stored, allowing electricity to be generated after the sun has set.
SOLAR ENERGY USE IN THE WORLD
Solar energy was long considered to be the “technology/energy of the future,” but this perception has changed over the past decade. The installed capacity for solar power increased to 402 GW at yearend 2017, from 8 GW in 2007. Solar power accounted for 38 percent of total installed capacity for electric generation in 2017, surpassing coal, natural gas and nuclear. Outside the world atmosphere, the intensity of solar energy is constant at 1370 W/sqm, but on earth it is variable between 0 and 1100 W/sqm. Infiniteness is, without doubt, the main characteristic of the energy emitted by the sun and received on earth. In the USA, the installed capacity of solar power is over 69 GW, which is sufficient to meet the needs of more than 13,1 million households. The solar power market in the USA has grown at an annual rate of 50 percent over the past decade, and there are more than 2 million individually-owned solar power facilities.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Solar power represents a clean and green source of energy. It is safe and environmentally-friendly, and does not cause any greenhouse gas emission. It needs no resources to function, other than clean water. Installing solar panels on house roofs is a safe and convenient way to support a sustainable future. Unlike conventional sources of energy, such as coal, natural gas and fossil fuels, solar energy is an infinite resource. It can be used for electric generation and heating; it reduces dependency on energy imports; and it contributes to the national economy.
The cost of solar panels has declined dramatically over the past decade, making it not only economical, but also the cheapest form of electric energy. Solar panels have a life of approximately 30 years, and they have various types, depending on the type of material used in their manufacture.
SOLAR ENERGY IN TURKEY
Turkey is better positioned to utilize solar power, compared to many other countries, with 2.640 hours of annual average sunshine (7,2 hours per day) and a mean solar irradiance of 1311 KWh/sqm (3,6 KWh/sqm per day). Turkey’s gross solar power potential is estimated at 87,5 Mtoe (million tons of oil equivalent), of which 26,5 Mtoe is compatible for heat generation and 8,75 Mtoe for electric power generation.
In Turkey, the potential for solar energy is highest in the Southeast Anatolia Region, followed closely by the Mediterranean and East Anatolia regions; the Black Sea Region has the lowest potential, although the values there are higher still than those in the highest-potential regions of Germany.
Only 0.00002 of the total solar irradiation received by Turkey can be used, and only 3,5 to 4 million of a total of 22 million homes use solar power for heating water. The contribution of solar energy power can be potentially increased to USD 3 to 3.5 billion from the current level of USD 500-600 million, by expanding the use of these systems.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY
MISCONCEPTION-1: “SOLAR PANELS PERFORM POORLY IN COLDER CLIMATES.”
Solar panels have operating ranges within which they can be technically used, and when in those ranges, they perform better in colder weather. This is because conductivity is increased in colder temperatures. Also, the surface temperature of solar panels barely increase during electric generation.
MISCONCEPTION-2: “SOLAR PANELS CAN’T PRODUCE IN CLOUDY/RAINY WEATHER.”
UV rays are what causes the production of electricity in solar panel. UV rays are invisible, and they can reach the earth surface in cloudy weather. Of course, electric generation is highly increased in sunny weather.
MISCONCEPTION-3: “POLYCRYSTAL PANELS HAVE LOWER YIELD AND THEREFORE PRODUCE LESS POWER COMPARED TO MONOCRYSTAL PANELS.”
In this context, yield does not concern a panel’s total power, and is only a comparison of yield of individual cells. When combined into a panel, the power generated is not different. In other words, a 60-cell 270W solar panel will generate the same power at 1000 W/sqm irradiance, regardless of whether it is monocrystal or polycrystal.
MISCONCEPTION-4: “SOLAR POWER PLANTS HARM THE ENVIRONMENT AND DESTROY FARMLANDS.”
SPPs cannot be installed and used in any empty field. Installation of a power plant requires certification that the field is unsuited for farming (marginal land).
MISCONCEPTION-5: “INSTALLING SOLAR PANELS REDUCE THE LIFE OF ROOF STRUCTURES.”
On the contrary, installation of solar panels, if assembled properly, increases the longevity of roof structures, as it prevents unwanted factors that can harm a roof, such as cracks and leaks. Covering the roof structures prevent direct exposure to UV rays.