These days, many countries have relied on solar power due to energy deficiency. Energy crisis in various countries is the result of continuous mismanagement of the successive governments, not to mention that they have been quite negligent. The energy crisis has affected various aspects of a country’s life, especially economy. This crisis is apparently increasing in certain parts of the globe and everyone is thinking ways to tackle the issues. Some have the notion that it can be dealt with by relying on energy conservation and some others think of increasing the use of alternate energy use and some have to opine of generating electricity through coal and water resources. Obviously, every solution has its merits and demerits.
The shortest possible way to battle energy deficit is to increase the use of solar energy applications in commercial and industrial sectors. There are various challenges in its growth like upfront costs due to taxes, right designing, quality standard, and awareness which require attention of the government to remove them. Apparently alternate energy sector cannot grow without the government commitment towards this issue. We will discuss the technologies of solar energy and its applications to really understand their potential.
Solar thermal is a technology by which solar power is converted into heat energy and its applications in industrial as well as commercial sectors include the usage of hot water for washing and bathing, pasteurization, pre-heated water up until 80 degrees to boilers, cleaning milk dairies, condensation, phosphating in metal industry, drying and tanning in industry focusing on leather process, and drying in food. Some other applications include drying in livestock as well as pharmaceutical industry and heating swimming pool water.
Solar Thermal Applications
Solar water heating is one particular application of the solar power. SWH, which stands for solar water heaters, are of two kinds: one is pressurized solar water heating and other is non-pressurized solar water heating. In non-pressurized solar water heating, the collector and tank are set on a fixture and are adjusted in one integrated unit. The tank is mounted right at the top of collector. There is no pump required in this system. The system works on the flow of water through gravity from overhead tank to the solar heater tank, which is actually a stainless steel tank with 60 mm poly-urethane insulation, and from this tank onward to the vacuum tubes and by natural convention mechanism, the hot water circulates and heats up the entire tank. It commonly takes 4 hours to heat up the water of three hundred liters in extreme hot season. Therefore the temperature of water varies just as per ambient temperature. Commonly 50 litter each season per day is gathered while designing the system for use in households. For the industrial application of cleaning and washing, the total water load in terms of flow is calculated to set the system. The total number of solar water heating system which is connected in parallel depends on the daily water usage and the temperature requirement. The collectors operated in pressurized solar water heaters can be vacuum tubes or flat plate. In pressured solar water heaters, the tubes are made of copper and these constitute closed tubes and the upper part has bulb which is dipped in water tank through which heat radiates into the water kept in tank. The copper tubes are filled with either that expands rapidly when the sun radiation falls at the tubes.
The other application of solar thermal is solar thermal power plant. Solar thermal power plan comprises of solar collectors which can be of dish, parabolic or some sort of tower type formation, steam generators for transforming steam into electric energy, and steam generation process. These thermal power plants are so economical way of generating power, compared to solar electric power plant. The operational cost is more than that of solar electric system. The requirement of space is more than solar electric. Huge amount of power up to 200 MW can be produced through the solar thermal power plants.
Solar Photovoltaics and Solar Electric Power Generation
Solar photovoltaic denotes a technology by which solar energy is transformed into electrical energy and its major applications in commercial sectors include solar lighting, solar homes systems up to 2000 W, solar roof based on grid power generation, solar UPS, solar parks up to 20 MW, power for remote terminal units, solar traffic signal lights, building integrated photovoltaic system, power for telecommunication towers, and military signaling.
Solar electric power can be produced varying from 100 Watts in small solar home system to even 100 MW solar power plants, and sometimes even more than that. The solar power systems are of two types, which include off-grid system and on-grid system. In the off-grid systems, the systems has no connection with utility grid and components operated in systems are charge controllers, solar panels, deep cycle batteries, inverters, mounting and electric accessories. Solar panels transform solar radiations into electric power and the power passes through charge controllers that charges the battery by controlling the current for battery. Charge controllers adjust control on charging the battery for long-term usage. As such DC power is kept in batteries and the stored energy is transformed into AC power to operate appliances with the same current. The DC applications can be used right away with the battery. SO AC and DC load can be operated through solar power system.
Solar lighting is another use of solar photovoltaic. Solar lighting has a number of types. The solar lighting can take the form of solar flood lighting, solar street lighting, and solar garden lighting as well as special applications for lighting. In such lighting system, the most important thing is the design of solution which allows the light to work automatically and remain on. Most of the solar lights work well, but we may have seen un-lit lights during the night or they are on for several hours and then go off not as the timing. As such, more controlling is required to assure that solar lighting works properly.