Solar power, why we need it and how does it work?

Solar Power

Not just the need for solar power, but the urgency..

Climate change,

Let me begin by stating that our sensitivity to climate, planet wide is extremely high. This sensitivity is amplified by the fact that the majority of the earth’s population is located on or very near our coastlines. The fact is that most people on planet earth live very close to the ocean. Rising global waters continue to threaten mass migration, and some low lying countries face complete submersion in the event of a climate crisis… So the human design of civilization around the globe is hyper sensitive to climate change, and this is progressively driving exit strategies away from traditional fossil fuels. In addition many continental inland areas are experiencing an ever increasing number of extreme weather events each year. These events are generating additional collateral crisis’s costing us billions of dollars annually.

We are heading for carbon levels far beyond what we’ve ever seen, even on the fossil record.

This keeling curve graphic below says it all;

Solar Power
The Keeling Curve

And of course, it is worth repeating that there are only a finite amount of fossil fuels that exist on the planet. So by definition, we must move to renewable energy. To argue against this fact is to say that one day we’ll simply run out of energy, and you know… the human race will cease to exist (bummer) 🙁

So the question is no longer whether or not we should shift to renewables i.e. solar power. The question has now become how fast should we be endeavouring to make this change? How fast should we endeavour to derive all of our planet’s electricity from renewables such as solar power?

I would argue, that since we know we absolutely need to get to a renewable or a sustainable future eventually, we should be making all efforts to get there as soon as possible. The argument for sooner rather than later is simply this – Why continue the environmental damage to the Earth fossil fuels cause during our path of slow transition? – This is simply needless damage with the solar technology (solar power) we are capable of deploying today!

Solar Power

Solar Power

Sooo…. We do happen to have access to a handy giant fusion generator in the sky called the sun..  Yes, that yellow thing in the sky! The sun is after all, very reliable. It shows up every day! I mean, it just works right?

Solar powered electricity generation represents a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels, with no air and water pollution, no global warming pollution, no risks of electricity price spikes, and no threats to our public health.

In fact @ USST we often like to remind our clientele that not one single electron produced from solar power from either their rooftop installations or any others is either carbon emitting or radio active.

Photovoltaics, or solar power is truly a technology that is limitless in its potential. Whether you are talking about powering individual homes and businesses or large scale utility grid export sites solar power is a virtually in inexhaustible pollution free resource.

Yes, our solar resource is truly enormous. Just 18 days of sunshine on Earth contains the same amount of energy as is stored in all of the planet’s reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas.

In fact – approximately 3.8 million exajoules of solar energy is absorbed by the earth annually.

I won’t bore you with the definition of an exajoule, but I will tell you that – only one hour of sunlight is the equivalent to more energy than the population of the entire planet consumes in a year. Solar energy is by far the largest energy resource on the Earth.

How does Solar Power work?

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, this is achieved most often, and in Unconquered Sun’s case through the use of photovoltaics (PV).

Solar radiation from the sun is converted to electricity through a semiconductor material, mainly polycrystalline silicon in the case of most solar panels available for commercial use today.

Solar power in its electrical form is produced by the photovoltaic effect if you look at the business side (or blue side) of a solar cell – the blue material is comprised of polycrystalline silicon. Polycrystalline silicon is a fancy word for dirt – Yes dirt! the most abundant natural resource found on the planet, the Earth’s crust…. What most don’t realize is that when sunlight hits regular old dirt on the ground it releases electrons. (photovoltaic effect).

Think about it…. Dirt! the most abundant natural resource that we have on this planet. We can mine it and refine it right here in Canada or elsewhere into high-grade polycrystalline Silicon and we can create electricity from it!

Solar Power
Magnified view of a 3 bus bar polycrystalline silicon solar cell

We simply capture these electrons with the tiny white bus bars (seen above) running across the solar cell, these bus bars are actually made from a silver oxide paste. We thus collect collect the electrons from each cell, then we connect each cell in series (silver tin bus ribbon) thereby increasing the power cell by cell. Traditionally at USST we have built a 60 cell panel which produces +/- 270 Watts… but many manufacturers in the industry are now producing 70 cell panels that produce upwards of 320 watts @ peak.. We connect each panel together in series or a series parallel configuration then anchor to a rooftop. This in turn exponentially increases the solar power converted into electricity which is then exported into the grid. It is this export of electricity which ultimately runs a meter backwards – effectively eliminating electrical costs for all Unconquered Sun clientele at their home or business.

It should be noted that larger panels do not translate into better or more efficient panels. Ultimately the panel size used in an installation is determined by the geometry and surface area available on an individual rooftop.

One great thing about solar installations from a mechanical perspective – Really, there are no moving parts that can breakdown. Also, the only factor that may degrade a panel or individual cell’s power production over time is perhaps the glass on which the cell is laminated becoming scratched or otherwise experiencing damage affecting the overall transitivity of light hitting the solar cell.

The efficiency of Solar Power vs traditional fuels

Solar power is, already the vast majority of the earth’s energy after all – fossil fuels are simply put… stored sunshine.

From an efficiency perspective it absolutely makes zero sense to wait millions and millions of years for organisms to anaerobically decompose. Then come along and drill down thousands and thousands of meters (perhaps from an offshore rig somewhere).. suck up the anaerobically decomposed material. Load it onto a ship, sail that ship potentially thousands of kilometers across the ocean. Load the material onto trucks or trains, drive the trucks/ trains to a facility to refine the sludge into oil or gas. Then burn that refined material in some sort of a generator or dynamo.. Then push the electricity from the generator thousands of kilometers through wires, so that somebody can power their toaster in the morning! Think about it for a second… this makes absolutely no sense from either an efficiency or an engineering perspective – yet we cling steadfastly to this method of electricity production!

With solar pv , solar power from the sun simply hits the panel (s), and is converted instantly and locally into electricity.

And the truth is, We don’t need floating photovoltaics, or solar power collection satellites in space… And while I think these are all good and noble ideas, the fact is that they are completely unnecessary at this point in time.

It is a fact, that we could power the entire continent of North America with nothing more than a 3 by 3 kilometre square grid of solar PV in the right location, preferably somewhere down south where it is sunny, and most of this 3 x 3 km area could come from utilizing existing rooftops!

Check out the quick vid below:

How can I harness Solar Power to eliminate my electrical costs? What is the process?

At Unconquered Sun we have one simple rule, and that is that we only develop technology that we can sell. It is my belief that being able to successfully market the technology you develop is the true proof of the utility of that product. This is an ethos that has helped Unconquered Sun navigate many pitfalls and continue to engineer our success from a solid foundation.

I believe that one day solar will be the primary method of electricity generation planet wide. In fact the main reason I founded this company was to accelerate this transition.

It is a clever bird that builds its nest to protect others

Two words to remember – ‘Net Metering’

Net Metering is an extremely popular renewable energy program designed for solar and available throughout Canada. Net metering for solar essentially allows your property to become electrically ‘net zero’ without the need for batteries. You simply export the electricity produced from your solar panels into the electrical grid, then draw from it when needed. To boot – you receive credit from your local distribution company for the electricity if you produce a surplus!

In a nutshell:

Canadians are now able to reduce or eliminate their electrical costs by exporting generated electricity (from their solar panel system) back to the utility grid for a credit against the electricity that their property consumes.If you are looking for more information on how this works, please check out my article titled Considering solar panels for your home.

What if I own a business?

Commercial Net Metering works the same way as residential and allows commercial entities to install solar panels on the rooftops of their production facilities, offices, warehouses, industrial shops, etc. and generate electricity onsite for their own use!

Any surplus of electricity is sent directly to the grid, and customers are only charged for the difference between their total energy production and consumption over the course of the billing period. If in any given month the output of energy is greater than the consumption, a kWh credit is created and carried over for up to 12-months until it expires.

**Recently the Government of Canada enhanced the already generous Federal Tax incentive (capital cost allowance) for solar energy projects. Now business owners are able to write off 100% of the cost of their solar panel system in the first year of installation!!

Getting Started with Solar

Ok,

**Reminder to self** Insert a shameless plug for the company here! Sorry if this next part sounds a little promotional but it is accurate.. At Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies Inc. our qualified team of professionals are standing by to advise you with a FREE no obligation solar analysis design and quote for your home or business. A USST professional will recommend a solar panel system which is tailored to your home or business, advise you on the size, any costs, required documentation and approvals.

Also I believe the quality of design, system components and installation here at Unconquered Sun to be absolutely beyond compare. And our 1.9% financing available to all USST clientele is without parallel in the solar industry!

So, If you are ready to Go Solar, then let’s get started!

Click below,

  1. Request a FREE solar analysis, design and quote
  2. Pre approve yourself for USST’s exclusive No Money Down, 1.9% un secured financing option!

Well, this concludes the Why you need Solar Power and how does it work? Edition of the Ultimate Solar Guide from Unconquered Sun!

Hopefully the above will serve as a valuable reference on your solar journey. I truly hope you have found the content helpful. Please feel free to respond with any comments or suggestions you may have!

 More to come!!



Sean Moore , Founder Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies Inc