Solar energy, being known as one of the popular renewable energy sources, is one of the most available sources on Earth. However, being an intermittent source of energy, it needs to be enhanced by storage or another energy source. Even though solar power systems these days still have low average efficiencies, due to modern technology, research is being put into developing high-efficient and low-cost systems daily. Using solar energy is beneficial because it allows a more environmentally friendly or a "greener" way of living. It is also a freely available resource, which is one of its many advantages as once installed and does not cost more than the cost of setting up and routine maintenance.
Solar energy can be transmitted directly by "photovoltaics" (PV), or indirectly with "concentrating solar power (CSP). Solar photovoltaic is used to power small to medium sized equipment such as calculators to off-grid homes. CSP involves two methods: the first method is to simply boil water which is then used for providing power; the second and more complicated method entails technology such as the sterling engine dishes which use a sterling cycle engine to power a generator. Another detail to keep in mind that even though installation of solar power is costly, this cost has decreased significantly over the past couple of years making it affordable for almost everyone. Furthermore, small solar applications are also being used to replace other sources in the developing world. Since solar power is a renewable source of energy, this means you can pay up front for the next twenty years or so of energy.
Research indicates that the current photovoltaic conversion efficiency is about 15% and improving day by day! In addition, some experimental models are yielding over 40% efficiencies! This shows that solar energy is becoming more superior than what is was about twenty years ago. Solar panel efficiencies are averaged at 20%. However, do not be discouraged. The most advanced solar power systems are estimated to have an average of 40% efficiencies. However, when converting the resulting electricity (from solar energy) into light the efficiency does reduce by 15%.
Thus, solar panels do have a reduced efficiency when it comes to lighting up our homes. Nevertheless, the most proficient way of making most of solar energy is to utilize as much direct sunlight through day light and passive solar heating technologies and also use the highest efficiency solar panels for the rest of our energy requirements. High efficiency solar cells are a type of solar cell that averages the highest efficiencies in comparison to standard solar cells. Even though solar power systems generally still have low average efficiencies, a lot of research is being put into developing high-efficient and low-cost systems daily.
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