The question of how efficient are solar panels is important in their viability as a power generating technology and as a profitable one. People often have the misconception that solar power is free because sunlight is free and so we should use solar power. But the development, production, and implementation of solar power on a wide scale are dependent on how efficient are solar panels. Though the technologies of solar cell production have contributed to a rise in efficiency and a lower cost, solar cells continue to be an emerging technology instead of a widely utilized one.
Solar power is an important green energy technology as sunlight is virtually limitless in supply and does not produce pollution. Knowing how efficient are solar panels and how to increase efficiency will be important in spreading the use of this green energy.
Measures of Efficiency in determining how efficient are solar panels
There are many ways of measuring just how efficient are solar panels. This includes the thermodynamic efficiency limit and theoretical energy conversion and actual efficiency. This just indicates just how much energy from sunlight can be converted into electricity and how much energy the solar cell actually can convert. While in theory over 80% of sunlight can be converted into energy, given normal conditions the conversion of a single junction silicon solar cell will have an efficiency of just over 30%.
How efficient are solar panels is also important in marketing it for commercial use. Currently there are several applications for solar panels aside from large scale power generation. Commercially available solar panels have an efficiency range of about 15%. While this may seem low, it is actually enough to provide for various needs. Solar panels are now used for charging various gadgets and even as backup power for homes and car
Another way to measure how efficient are solar panels is to compute for the cost of power generation. Price ranges are from $0.30 to $.50 per kilowatt-hour. This value is actually comparable with the peak cost of $.50 per kilowatt-hour in worldwide figures.
Efficiency and Marketing Solar Power
While we may know how efficient are solar panels we also must know how this technology can also be widely used. People need to understand not just how efficient are solar panels but what this efficiency actually means. We may hear numbers thrown around on how efficient solar panels are but their actual effect and power generation capacity should be understood to appreciate their contribution. Although commercial solar panels may have efficiencies below 10%, they cost far less to produce than those with the highest known efficiency of above 30%. This means that we do not need to produce higher efficiency solar panels yet and we can get higher outputs through different combinations of lower efficiency solar panels which saves us a lot in terms of costs.
How Efficient are Solar Panels of Tomorrow
Solar power continues to develop as we aim to reach higher efficiencies and lower production costs. The question of how efficient are solar panels now extends not just to silicon-based solar panels but to other materials as well. Materials such as Selenium, Gallium, and Cadmium are also possible for use in solar panels. Crystal solar panels have by far the best efficiency in commercial applications while thin-film solar panels need fewer materials of construction.
Knowing how efficient are solar panels will also help in looking for ways to achieve the highest efficiency. Concentrating sunlight as well as combining types of solar panels may help in achieving this efficiency. While for now, we may still be wondering how efficient are solar panels, with developments continuing to be made we may soon instead ask how we can use solar power in our everyday lives.