Solar Cell Power=
(Image retrieved from:

History of solar cells:

  • The credit for developing the first "hot box" appears to belong to Swiss naturalist Horace de Saussure, who in about 1767, designed a glass covered, black lined, water filled box to test the temperature of the sun within the "hot box'.([bada2]
  • In 1990, a solar powered airplane flew across the US. ([bada2]
  • In october of 1973, oil prices nearly doubled overnight, causing leaders to become desperate to find a way of reducing the dependance of foreign oil. In addition to other issues, the US government began investigating the solar electric cell which had been produced nearly 20 years ago byBell Laboratories. ( [mrui1]
  • In the 1860's, the French Monarch gave August Mouchet funds to work on a new energy source. He created a solar-powered motor as well as a steam engine that worked off of solar energy. ( [mrui1]
  • Solar Cell technology dates back to 1839, [ccot2]

  • In 1877, Charles Fritts constructed the first true solar cells, by using junctions formed by coating the semiconductor selenium with an ultrathin, nearly transparent layer of gold. [ccot2]
  • Fritts's devices were very inefficient, transforming less than 1 percent of the absorbed light into electrical energy. [ccot2]
1954 Photovoltaic technology is born in the United States when Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller, and Gerald Pearson develop the silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell at Bell Labs—the first solar cell capable of converting enough of the sun’s energy into power to run everyday electrical equipment. Bell Telephone Laboratories produced a silicon solar cell with 4% efficiency and later achieved 11% efficiency. ( [RMac2]

  • By the late 1980s silicon cells, as well as those made of gallium arsenide, with efficiencies of more than 20 percent had been fabricated. In 1989 a concentrator solar cell, a type of device in which sunlight is concentrated onto the cell surface by means of lenses, achieved an efficiency of 37 percent due to the increased intensity of the collected energy. In general, solar cells of widely varying efficiencies and cost are now available. ( [mgot1]

  • After the 1973 oil embargo, there was a resurgence of interest in solar energy. Faced with a possibility of scarce oil resources, the United States government allocated $400 million per year, from a mere $1 million per year, for solar energy research ( [mgot1]

  • The Energy Crisis ! (OPEC oil embargo). A bit of solar energy history we are all familiar with. Suddenly it became important to find an alternative form of energy as we realised just how reliant we really are on non-renewable, finite resources like coal, oil and gas for our existence.
Solar energy history was made as the price of solar cells dropped dramatically to about $20 per watt. ( [NBli3]
Dr. Elliot Berman, with help from Exxon Corporation, designs a significantly less costly solar cell, bringing price down from $100 a watt to $20 a watt. Solar cells begin to power navigation warning lights and horns on many offshore gas and oil rigs, lighthouses, railroad crossings and domestic solar applications to be viewed as sensible applications in remote locations where gridconnected utilities could not exist affordably. ( [RMac2]

1980 - 1991

  • A Los Angeles based company called Luz Co. produced 95% of the world's solar-based electricity. They were forced to shut their doors after investors withdrew from the project as the price of non-renewable fossil fuels declined and the future of state and federal incentives were not likely.
The chairman of the board said it best: "The failure of the world's largest solar electric company was not due to technological or business judgment failures but rather to failures of government regulatory bodies to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of solar thermal generating plants.( [NBli3]
  • "Solar cell technology dates to 1839 when French physicist Antoine-Cesar Becquerel observed that shining light on an electrode submerged in a conductive solution would create an electric current. In 1941, the American Russell Ohl invented a silicon solar cell.( [KMec3]
  • "Turning sunlight into energy-solar energy--has been a dream of inventors at least since 1861, when the first sun-powered motor was patented in France. [ccot2]
photovoltaic effectA. E. BecquerelCharles FrittssemiconductorseleniumgoldRussell Ohl[[#cite_note-1|[2]]]transistor
His groundbreaking research was cut short though. The French renegotiated a cheaper deal with England for the supply of coal and improved their transportation system for the delivery thereof. Mouchout’s work towards finding an alternative was no longer considered a priority and he no longer received any funding from the monarch. ( [NBli3]

  • The first practical photovoltaic (PV) cell was developed in 1954 by Bell Telephone researchers examining the sensitivity of a properly prepared silicon wafer to sunlight. Beginning in the late 1950s, PV cells were used to power U.S. space satellites ( [MGOT1]

1986 The world’s largest solar thermal facility, located in Kramer Junction, California, was commissioned. The solar field contained rows of mirrors that concentrated the sun’s energy onto a system of pipes circulating a heat transfer fluid. The heat transfer fluid was used to produce steam, which powered a conventional turbine to generate electricity. ( [RMac2]

  • 1999:Spectrolab, Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory develop a photovoltaic solar cell that converts 32.3 percent of the sunlight that hits it into electricity. The high conversion efficiency was achieved by combining three layers of photovoltaic materials into a single solar cell. The cell performed most efficiently when it received sunlight concentrated to 50 times normal. To use such cells in practical applications, the cell is mounted in a device that uses lenses or mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the cell. Such “concentrator” systems are mounted on tracking systems that keep them pointed toward the sun. ( [RMac2]
2000: Two new thin-film solar modules, developed by BP Solarex, break previous performance records. The company’s 0.5-square-meter module achieves 10.8 % conversion efficiency—the highest in the world for thin-film modules of its kind. And its 0.9-square-meter module achieved 10.6% conversion efficiency and a power output of 91.5 watts — the highest power output for any thin-film module in the world. ( [Rmac2]

  • 2001: In Spring 2002, Alameda County, CA successfully completed the fourth largest solar electric system in the world atop the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. This solar installation, the United States’ largest rooftop system, was commissioned to help Alameda County reduce and stabilize future energy costs. This smart energy project reduces the jail’s use of utility-generated electricity by 30% through solar power generation and energy conservation. Clean energy is generated by a 1.18 Megawatt system consisting of three acres of solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) panels. ( [RMac2]

Nov 23, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq:FSLR), today announced the sale of the 21 megawatt (MW) AC solar energy project it has developed and constructed in Blythe, Calif., to NRG Energy, Inc. ( [MGOT1]

1956, The first commercial solar cell was made available to the public at a very expensive $300 per watt. It was now being used in radios and toys. ( [NBli3]

Germany holds the title of having the largest solar electric system there is in the whole world. Back then, Bavaria Solarpart holds the title but it was during 2006 when Germany was able to win over it! ( [NBli3]

The term "photovoltaic" comes from the Greek φῶς (phōs) meaning "light", and "voltaic", meaning electric, from the name of the Italian physicist Volta, after whom a unit of electrical potential, the volt, is named. The term "photo-voltaic" has been in use in English since 1849. (

1902 - Philipp von Lenard observes the variation in electron energy with light frequency. [mvan2]
1963 - Sharp Corporation produces a viable photovoltaic module of silicon solar cells. [mvan2]

"Voltaic" is named for Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a pioneer in the study of electricity for whom the term "volt" was named [cfla2]

  • Nanosolar, a company in San Jose California says they can produce enough solar panels in one year to provide 640 megawatts of power. [KCam1]

external image renewable-energy-investments-globally.jpg([kvea1]

Reliability of solar cells:

  • The laboratory for photovoltaics of the University of Luxembourg has produced its first thin film solar cells made from compound semiconductors, already reaching a 12 percent efficiency. Thin film solar cells are considered the next generation of solar cells and are expected to be considerably cheaper because they need much less material and energy in their production than today's photovoltaic modules. [KCam1]

  • Our solar panels are currently the most efficient type available, meaning that they produce the most power per square foot of module. ( [mgot1]

One way efficiency has been improved is to use two or more layers of different materials with different band gaps. The higher band gap material is on the surface, absorbing high-energy photons while allowing lower-energy photons to be absorbed by the lower band gap material beneath. This technique can result in much higher efficiencies. Such cells, called multi-junction cells, can have more than one electric field.( [mgot1]

  • We can say that the solar energy is 100% reliable, as we all know that if the sun’s energy would drop then the earth would have to struggle to support humans and any other life form on it for sure. What we can not say is if the methods on how we use solar energy are 100% reliable.
- ( [JNac2]
The sun's output, though abundant and free, is also diffuse. Sceptics, especially in the electricity industry, have frequently dismissed its potential as an exploitable resource. <>.[ewol3]

The forecast for solar energy in the twenty-first century is sunny. Solar will push the trend of safe, affordable, and reliable distributed energy. As we head deeper into the new century, some predict that the electricity system may come to resemble the Internet—with disparate points and no one center of activity.[ewol3]

Currently, the best commercial silicon solar cells can convert 22 percent of the sunlight that hits them into electricity, and physics dictates that maximum efficiency for these cells will come at around 26 percent. ( [SDan3]

    • National Renewable Energy Laboratory tests and validates solar technologies. There are three reliable certifications of solar equipment: UL and IEEE(Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) (both U.S. standards) and IEC(International Electrotechnical Commission). ( [BAda2]
    • Solar cells can last up to 25 years where as oil and natural gas will not get even close to that total. [KCam1]

  • Research on Cr/oxide/p-type:: solar cells has produced a 12.2% efficiency on 2 cm2 area. Reliability studies have been conducted to determine if degradation occurs during use in an extreme environment. Several cells with A/R coatings and encapsulation have been tested with degradation occurring in some cases after 2 years of use. One cell without an A/R coating was used for 1+1/2 years with degradation occurring only after a crack had appeared. ( [SDan3]

  • We can say that the solar energy is 100% reliable, as we all know that if the sun’s energy would drop then the earth would have to struggle to support humans and any other life form on it for sure. What we can not say is if the methods on how we use solar energy are 100% reliable. Until now it seems that the modern solar panels have proven to be the more efficient in harnessing solar energy. Of course the technology we use for transforming the solar energy into power is still not completely developed yet, and needs a lot of improvements that will probably come in time as science discovers more and more useful elements for us. All we can say is that as time goes by improved solar energy collectors appear on the market and we can hope that in a few years solar panels could support an entire household with no problems and at 100% reliability. [GNav1]

Solar electric systems are a proven technology and are extremely reliable. Photovoltaic cells were originally developed for use in space, where repair is extremely expensive, if not impossible. Solar still powers nearly every satellite circling the earth because it operates reliably for long periods of time with virtually no maintenance. ( [RMac2]

  • From the Utilities viewpoint, Solar Energy has one of the highest reliability factors of any energy choice. From the Consumers' viewpoint, it can be configured to provide back up power during periods of grid downtime. Solar Energy has technical reliability characteristics that allow it to access the premium power market. Solar Energy also has good fit with most Utility load curves. Its strongest fit occurs during the summer, when the daily air conditioning load in many countries fits closely with solar energy production. ( [Rmac2]
  • After a tandem device was designed with materials that respond to different parts of the solar spectrum in order to absorb the high energy component of sunlight, the productivity and power which the cells were able to acquire increased by as much as 50 percent more than older cells. ( [mrui1]
  • Photovoltaic is now a proven technology which is inherently safe as opposed to some dangerous electricity generating technologies. [cfla2]

How are solar cells used?:

  • The solar cell is made of a “copolymer,” a polymer consisting of two different alternating polymer chains. Its role is to release electrons when hit by sunlight; the electrons are accepted by a fullerene derivative, a material based on a form of carbon that tends to form large spherical molecules known as fullerenes. When the two materials are combined into a composite “active layer,” regions form that separating the positive and negative charge - the positively charged “holes” left by electrons as they leave the copolymer and, of course, the electrons themselves. The regions are known as bulk heterojunctions, or BHJs. [KCam1] [ccot2]

PV cells convert the energy of sunlight directly into electricity, while CSP converts concentrated heat energy from sunlight into electricity. Solar thermal uses sunlight's energy to heat water and buildings with no intermediate conversion to electricity.[ewol3]

  • Because of their modularity, solar cell systems can be designed to meet any electrical requirement, no matter how large or how small. You can also connect them to an electric distribution system (grid-connected), or they can stand alone (off grid). ( [SDan3]

The result is a solar cell that's nearly as efficient as silicon and a lot cheaper. It's like printing a very long newspaper. It is very thin and flexible and it creates electricity when sunlight hits it. The company can produce many rolls each day that are one mile long. A mile long roll of “thin film” solar could generate a gigawatt of power, the same amount of power a nuclear power plant can produce in a year. ( [SDan3]

Solar energy technologies are of three primary types: photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), and solar thermal. Although all three aim to maximize the capture of usable energy from sunlight, their approaches are radically different.[ewol3]

· Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, the federal government has provided nearly $1.4 billion in research grants to develop solar energy, which is power derived from the sun. The investment has helped to lower the cost of and improve photovoltaics, the technology that converts solar power into electricity. That technology, used to power solar cars and heat homes in some areas, now costs about half of what it cost just a decade ago. <>.[ewol3]

Solar cells or PV cells rely on the photovoltaic effect to absorb the energy of the sun and cause current to flow between two oppositely charge layers. [mvan2]

The "photovoltaic effect" is the basic physical process through which a PV cell converts sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of solar energy. These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. [mvan2]
Solar technology uses solar panels that are created for capturing the energy provided by the sun and transform it in to power we can use for our electrical home devices ( [MGOT1]


    • T he solar cells that you see on calculators and satellites are photovoltaic cells or modules (modules are simply a group of cells electrically connected and packaged in one frame). Photovoltaics, as the word implies (photo = light, voltaic = electricity), convert sunlight directly into electricity.([kvea1]
    • When protons from the sun hit the solar panel, electrons are released and the energy is converted into DC electricity. [JNac2]
    • There are two types of materials that solar cells are made from. One is silicon-based and the other is polymer. Polymer, compared to the silicon, is relatively lightweight, disposable, inexpensive to fabricate, flexible, customizable on the molecular level, and have lower potential for negative environmental impact. Although these polymer cells are much cheaper than the silicon based cells, they are not effective, at about 1.7% effectiveness, so they can't compete with the silicon yet. [KCam1]
    • Solar cells can be used for calculators, satellites, road signs and parking lot lights. [mvan2]
    • Solar power can also be used to heat water. Solar hot water systems can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 and are usually designed with a backup system for cloudy periods. ( [mrui1]
    • The four primary components for producing electricity using solar power, which provides common 120 volt AC power for daily use are: Solar panels, charge controller, battery and inverter. Solar panels charge the battery, and the charge regulator insures proper charging of the battery. The battery provides DC voltage to the inverter, and the inverter converts the DC voltage to normal AC voltage.([kvea1]
    • Photovoltaic Cell -- Thin squares, discs, or films of semiconductor material that generate voltage and current when exposed to sunlight. [cfla2]
    • Solar cells are generally made from thin wafers of silicon, the second most abundant substance on earth, the same substance that makes up sand. [cfla2]
    • Solar energy is also often used to heat water (a solar collector is mounted in direct sunlight, which warms a heat transfer fluid, which in turn heats the water in your hot water tank). [cfla2]
    • Solar thermal technologies include passive solar systems for heating (or cooling!) buildings; flat plate solar collectors, often used for providing households with hot water; and solar concentrator power systems. [cfla2]
    • Solar Cells are being used in a wide variety of applications, from providing power for watches, highway signs, and space stations, to providing for a household's electrical needs. [cfla2]
    • In a solar cell there's a junction between p-type silicon and an n-type layer such as diffused-in phosphorus. When sunlight is absorbed, it frees electrons which start migrating in a random-walk fashion toward that junction. [mvan2]
    • Plants that concentrate solar power produce electric power by converting sunlight into high-temperature heat using large mirrors, then channeling the heat through a conventional generator. [cfla2]
    • The rays of the sun from a relatively wide area are focused into a small area by means of reflective mirrors, and thus the heat energy is concentrated. [JNac2]
    • Solar cells are used to power lights, emergency road signs, water pumps, filtration systems, small refrigeration systems, radios, and telephones. [mvan2]
    • Benefits of using solar cells:

  • “Although, in practice, a solar cell would never be used under a light source that emitted only green light, this shows that it should be possible to achieve efficiencies of 10 to 15 percent in bulk heterojunction solar cells," says Alan Heeger of the University of California at Santa Barbara. [KCam1]

newable energy industries provide 1.7 million jobs, most of them skilled and well-paying. [mvan2]

The group's work is a good sign that it is possible to produce polymer solar cells with efficiencies good enough for commercial production. As alternative-energy media, polymer solar cells are already promising because they would be much cheaper to produce and far more lightweight than conventional solar cells or cells made using other materials. They would also be highly portable and physically flexible, making it possible to place them in locations that standard solar cells cannot go.[KCam1]

external image photovoltaic-solar-energy.gif

(Site Access - A well-designed solar cell system will operate unattended and requires minimum periodic maintenance. The savings in labor costs and travel expenses can be significant.

Modularity - A solar cell system can be designed for easy expansion. If your power demand could increase in future years, the ease and cost of increasing the solar cell power supply should be considered.

Fuel Supply - Supplying conventional fuel to the site and storing it can be much more expensive than the fuel itself. Solar energy is delivered free of charge.

Environment - Solar cells create no pollution and generate no waste products when operating.

Maintenance - Solar cells have no moving parts and require no maintenance other than to be regularly cleaned.

Durability - Most of today's solar cells are based on proven technology that has experienced little degradation in more than 15 years of operation.

Cost - For many applications, the advantages of solar cells offset their relatively high initial cost. Federal energy tax credits, new feed-in tariffs, net metering and lower prices are combining to make solar cells and solar panels an attractive energy alternative) ( [SDan3]

        • Today, innovation, investment and technology advances have produced solar technologies that generate power and reduce stress on a critical electricity infrastructure. [ccot2]
        • The climate change benefits that accrue from solar and wind power with 100 percent fossil fuel backup are associated with the fossil fuels not used at the standby power plants. Because solar and wind have the capacity to deliver only 30 to 40 percent of their full power ratings in even the best locations, they provide a carbon dioxide reduction of less than 30 to 40 percent, considering the fossil fuels needed for the "spinning reserve." That's far less than the 100 percent that many people believe, and it all comes with a high cost premium. [GNav1] [ccot2]

From portable indoor uses such as calculators, to generating plants alongside railways and roads, photovoltaics are adaptable, needing neither deserts nor cloudless skies. The application of PV systems to buildings shows that solar electricity can now be produced without needing any extra land at all. [ewol3]

  • They are particularly useful where there is no national grid and also where there are no people such as remote site water pumping or in space. [JNac]

Solar energy is especially well suited for heating water, a task that requires 15-20 percent of a home's total energy consumption. Solar water heaters can provide 50-90 percent of that hot water, and their original cost can be recovered through energy bill savings over the course of 4-7 years. Already, the most economical way to heat a pool is with solar. [ewol3]


  • More cells can be added to homes and businesses as the community grows so that energy generation is in line with demand. Many large scale systems currently end up over generating to ensure that everyone has enough.
= [JNac]

· Solar power does have a future in the near term, however. Sunlight is plentiful in many developing countries where the demand for energy is high but supplies are low because of weak or lacking infrastructure for electric power. Nearly two billion people, or about one-third of the world's population, live without electricity. Solar technology is offering a relatively quick and easy way to bring them the power they need. <>.[ewol3]

Disadvantages of using solar cells:

Disadvantages: Low efficiency (15%) which can only be compensated for by large collecting areas; significant generation of waste heat ; Very high initial costs; lack of adequate storage materials (batteries); High cost to the consumer although these costs are going down. Current levelized cost is 20-25 cents per KWH. ( [KMec3] [GNav1]

        • Manufacturing procedures are complicated by clean rooms and vaccuum chambers due to the required purity of silicon. [KCam1] [ccot2]

    • Solar and wind electricity are available only part of the time that consumers demand power. Solar cells produce no electric power at night, and clouds greatly reduce their output. The wind doesn't blow at a constant rate, and sometimes it does not blow at all. [ccot2]

    • At locations without such hydroelectric dams, which is most places, solar and wind electricity systems must be backed up 100 percent by other forms of generation to ensure against blackouts. In today's world, that backup power can only come from fossil fuels.Because of this need for full fossil fuel backup, the public will pay a large premium for solar and wind--paying once for the solar and wind system (made financially feasible through substantial subsidies) and again for the fossil fuel system, which must be kept running at a low level at all times to be able to quickly ramp up in cases of sudden declines in sunshine and wind. Thus, the total cost of such a system includes the cost of the solar and wind machines, their subsidies, and the cost of the full backup power system running in "spinning reserve." [ccot2]

    • A good case in point is solar energy. The problems boil down to three. First, while solar-energy installation can produce hundreds of thousands of jobs nationally, there are far fewer solar-energy jobs in design and installation than in production--and most manufacturing jobs are already being outsourced globally. Second, despite a lot of creative local efforts, not every city can emerge as a center in the nations solar-energy industry. Third, in the absence of federal standards subsidizing more rapid development of solar-energy technologies and mandates or incentives for their use, one state or city acting alone cannot bring solar conversion to scale. One can tell a similar story about wind power, conservation, the shift to non-polluting cars, and jobs doing retrofitting and environmental cleanup.

  • One disadvantage of solar power is consistency and reliability. Solar-powered devices rely on the steady delivery of special particles called photons to keep the electricity generating process going. As soon as the sun falls below the horizon at night, photons stop striking the solar panels and the power drops instantly. This means that storage technology, such as batteries, or an alternative source of energy is always required to ensure uninterrupted power flow ( [MGOT1]
    • Solar energy has been touted for years as a safer, cleaner alternative to burning fossil fuels to meet rising energy demands. However, environmentalists and others are increasingly concerned about the potential negative impact of solar cell (photovoltaic) technology. [GNav1]

    • Manufacture of photovoltaic cells requires potentially toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium and produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming.

  • For example, there are some toxic materials and chemicals, and various solvents and alcohols that are used in the manufacturing process of photovoltaic cells (PV), which convert sunlight into electricity. Small amounts of these waste materials are produced.( [MGOT1]

  • large solar thermal power plants can harm desert ecosystems if not properly managed. Birds and insects can be killed if they fly into a concentrated beam of sunlight, such as that created by a "solar power tower." Some solar thermal systems use potentially hazardous fluids (to transfer heat) that require proper handling and disposal .( [MGOT1]

The location of solar panels can affect performance, due to possible obstructions from the surrounding buildings or landscape. [JNac]
A current cost of 25 to 50 cents per kilowatt-hour, solar power costs as much as five times more than conventional fossil fuel-based electricity. [mvan2]

  • Economic costs of using solar cells:

        • Some of the considerations for a solar energy system include the 20-to-30 year lifespan of the system and the hours of available sunlight. The hours of available sunlight depends on latitude, climate, unblocked exposure to the sun, ability to tilt panels towards the sun, seasonality, and temperature. On the average, approximately 3.6 peak sunlight hours per day serves as a reasonable proxy to calculate the average annual output of electric from solar energy panels. ( [GNav1]
        • external image renewable-energy-investments-globally.jpg

Solar cell systems placed in service by December 31, 2016 are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit, with no upper limit, for existing homes and new construction. ( [SDan3]
        • Researchers have recently demonstrated an all-organic solar cell with a high efficiency, one that can provide both thin and flexible solar cells and routes to cheap manufacturing.[KCam1]

The initial investment in solar-energy equipment can be expensive. The cost is high because semiconductor materials used in the manufacture of PV panels are expensive. In 2005, the price of solar panels averaged about $3-$4 USD per watt of installed power. As manufacturers increase production and research continues into less expensive ways to make solar panels, the cost is expected to drop. [KCam1]

Solar powered systems demand a higher initial cost than common gas or electric systems, and most homeowners and homebuilders choose conventional systems for that simple reason. [KCam1]
external image cost_kwh2.jpg
With expanding polysilicon supplies, average PV prices are projected to drop to $2 per watt in 2010. [mvan2]
The array manufacturing costs for a mediumsized 5-kilowatt satellite can exceed $2 million. Current single-crystal technology can cost more than $300 per watt at the array level and weigh more than 1 kilogram per square meter equivalent to a specific power of about 65 watts per kilogram. ( [MJos3]

external image photovoltaic-solar-energy.gif

        • Depending on the size of your home, the amount of electricity you use, the particular solar energy system you choose, how much sunshine you receive in you area are all factors you must take into consideration when purchasing solar panels.
        • A solar hot water system will cost between US $2,000 and $4,000. A photovoltaic system will cost between US $8,000 and $10,000 for a 1kW system. (or $8 - $10 /Watt). An average American family, living in a 3-bedroom home will require a 1.5 - 3kW system, which will cost between US $13,000 and US $27,000, before rebates. ( [KMec3]
        • Solar panels are the most expensive component in the solar energy systems, but as they get more efficient, the costs will go down. ( [mvan2]

· Bond explains that photovoltaic cells capture solar energy and transform it into electricity more cheaply than ever before.

There are three cell types, depending on the type of crystal: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. The different cell types differ in terms of their production costs and the different efficiency values. The efficiency values of amorphous cells ("thin-film cells") are below those of the other two cell types; but then they are cheaper due to the less cost-intensive manufacturing process. ( [NBli3]

Solar electricity costs reach 20-40c/kWh in sunny regions and are on a decline cost path averaging 4% per annum. This is one of the fastest declines of any energy source and stands in stark contrast to hydrocarbons that require rising prices to bring on new reserves. Nonetheless, continuing the solar cost decline remains the Number 1 mission of the industry, driven mainly through manufacturing economies of scale and automation, solar cell technology enhancements and finally through enhanced procurement activities. ( [Rmac2]
  • Solar Energy is not exposed to price volatility. This means that it avoids both commodity market price movements and carries no forward exchange rate risk during its life. This is a common characteristic with other renewable energy sources. This element alone has value in a price volatility mitigation role in any Utility portfolio. ( [RMac2]
  • Despite decades of improvements, solar electricity made from photovaltaic cells can't yet compete with the average watt produced by the power grid.( [mrui1]
  • In order to overcome the economic handicap of solar power, for the past 20 years, local, state, and federal governments have provided hundreds of seperate programs offering financial aid and incentives.( [mrui1]

The two main strategies to bring down the cost of photovoltaic electricity are increasing the efficiency (as many of the costs scale with the area occupied per unit of generated power), and decreasing the cost of the solar cells per generated unit of power. [mvan2]
Cost is established in cost-per-watt and in cost-per-watt in 24 hours for infrared capable photovoltaic cells. [mvan2]

Environmental impact of using solar cells (Both +/-):

  • The utilization of solar energy has a moderate environmental impact, but in no case will it be zero. ( [Rmac2]
  • Solar collectors and solar panels need an external surface, with potential user conflicts as a result. Other uses of the area may be hampered, but fortunately it is often possible to integrate solar collectors and panels on roofs and walls on buildings, so that the net additional area requirement is zero. So far, there haven’t been any serious conflicts, and larger solar power plants will often be located in desert-like areas, where the potential for user conflicts is small. ( [Rmac2]
  • Large thermal solar power plants will use some water in the steam system and in cooling towers. Water is expensive in the areas of the world where such power plants are of interest, so conflicts of use could arise.
Emissions to water and air during operation will under normal circumstances be close to zero. Emissions could occur in connection with accidents ( [Rmac2]

  • Despite rapid growth in recent years, solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of United States electricity use. Solar power is more entrenched in European countries such as Spain and Germany, which have promoted its development with strong incentives called feed-in tariffs,which require electric utilities to buy solar power at a high, fixed price. ( [mgot1]

  • Environmental influence from the production of the systems will naturally occur. Thermal systems are produced by completely ordinary materials and are similar to other technology that normally surrounds us. Solar cell production uses certain very aggressive chemicals, and some technologies use substances such as cadmium and tellurium. Some of these substances are extremely toxic; however solar cell production is carried out in ultra clean and very controlled environments, so this problem seems manageable. In the completed products, the substances are stable.( [Rmac2]
  • The energy consumption during production has been emphasized as an issue. For systems that are used in an efficient manner, this is not a problem. The payback period for the energy that is used will normally be less than two years.
Dismantled systems will come back as waste that need to be treated. This has to be done in a responsible manner, and the waste will mainly be recyclable (metals, plastics). In Japan, industrial players that wish to recycle substances from discarded solar cells have already appeared.( [Rmac2]
One such system forms the roof of the home of Jeremy Leggett, a former Greenpeace scientist who now runs Solar Century, a company which designs PV systems for buildings. Leggett's roof is made of solar 'tiles' which look similar to the ordinary roof tiles they replace except that they generate electricity. "Over the past 12 months," says Leggett, "my roof has generated 14 per cent more electricity than I used, so I sold the surplus to the electricity company." Moreover, according to Solar Energy, each solar roof on an average house will, over its lifetime, prevent 34 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Prevents 34 tons of greenhouse gas emissions-solar panels in alifetime on one house[ewol3]
When creating solar panels the manufacturers have to use energy, which pollutes the air, creates heavy metal emmisions, and greenhouse gases. [RMac2]
Can't use solar energy when it is very dense and foggy outside [RMac2]
The solar panels operate silently, have no moving parts, and don't release offensive smells [RMac2]

        • One important point is that if NASA’s heavy-lift Ares 5 launcher is built, it would be an ideal tool with which to place the heavy elements of a solar power satellite into orbit. The space agency should welcome the opportunity to turn what would otherwise be a highly specialized and rarely used heavy lifter into a multi-purpose space transportation vehicle that could actually serve a commercial purpose.[KCam1]
        • The Los Angeles experiment tells the story shared by other locales. In L.A., for example, the city's lone solar panel manufacturer has not been able to supply enough systems to meet demand. [ccot2]
        • The systems, too, are often oversold by solar proponents. In the real world, most do not pay for themselves in a few years, as some advocates claim, but take 20 years or more to return their initial cost in the form of reduced utility bills. [ccot2]
        • Nor are the systems maintenance-free: At a minimum, the rooftop panels must be routinely cleaned of pollution, dust and leaves. [ccot2]
        • They cannot be installed efficiently on homes without shade-free, south-facing roofs; the shadow from a neighbor's palm tree can frustrate the system's photovoltaic cells. [ccot2]
The Solar Rights Act, or California Civil Code 714, was adopted in 1978 and was created to promote alternative energy use. It prohibits cities and homes associations from restricting solar panelinstallations , unless they pose a risk to the health or safety of nearby residents.
Bartz' solar fight with the association stems from blue panels picked by three of his clients for energy-saving solar systems on their homes, which lay under the jurisdiction of the association.
The association denied Bartz' permit requests to install the systems, explaining that panels should be a more eye-pleasing shade of black. ([kvea1]

Would there be any societal impacts to the use of solar cells?
        • Many people understand why global warming is occurring and what role their energy choises play in it. International relationships are becoming more straind because of the dependance on oil. Because of these factors people re wanting better energy alternatives. [Gale virtual Reference library] [ccot2]
          • According to the U.S. Photovoltaic Industry Roadmap, "The domestic photovoltaic industry will provide up to 15 percent (about 3,200 MW or 3.2 GW) of the new U.S. peak electricity generating capacity expected to be required in 2020." Cumulative U.S. PV shipments, both domestic and abroad, should stand at about 36 GW at that time. By 2020, if current growth trends are sustained, over 150,000 Americans will be employed in the PV industry. ( [ewol3]
          • In year 2005 electricity from renewables saved about 2,8 billion € according comprehensive report written by specialists from "Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, Stuttgart)" and "Fraunhofer Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI, Karlsruhe)". CO2 emissions related costs (damage) are assumed to be (in average) about 70 €/ton CO2. ( [SDan3]
        • The analysis provides the potential burdens to the environment, which include-during the construction, the installation and the demolition phases, as well as especially in the case of the central solar technologies--noise and visual intrusion, greenhouse gas emissions, water and soil pollution, energy consumption, labour accidents, impact on archaeological sites or on sensitive ecosystems, negative and positive socio-economic effects.( [MJos3]
        • Economic development! Switching to renewable energy sources is estimated to create at least several times as many jobs as traditional energy sources (some estimates suggest as much as 10 times or more). These jobs would include both manufacturing jobs and the maintenance of collection and energy storage devices. This is possible because one is paying for the manufacturing and maintenance of the collectors, which is labor intensive, and NOT a fuel supply. ( [KMec3]
        • The solar market is growing so quickly that researchers believe demand may well exceed the number of reliable solar contractors over the next few years. ( [mrui1]
        • With an increased focus on alternative sources of cheap, abundant, clean energy, solar cells are receiving lots of attention. ( [SDan3]
        • "Efficiencies reaching 4.4% have already been achieved and hopefully 10-15% efficiencies are feasible in the near-future upon further optimization" says Kymakis. "Once this obstacle is tackled, the lifetime issue, which is directly related to the cell temperatures, can be explored. A working environment combining the strengths of scientists and business leaders may soon result in rapid commercialization of this technology." ( [SDan3]
        • The most important material for solar cells production is silicon... In nature it can be easily found in large quantities. Silicon oxide forms 1/3 of the Earth's crust.
          It is not poisonous, and it is environment friendly, its waste does not represent any problems.
          It can be easily melted, handled, and it is fairly easy formed into mono-crystalline form. Its electrical properties with endurance of 125°C allow the use of silicon semiconductor devices even in the most harsh environment and applications. ( [SDan3]
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