Energy of photovoltaic cells

Introduction

Non-renewable energy resources like oil, gas, coal etc are the result of biological waste over a period of millions of years. The industrial revolution began three hundred years ago and in these three centuries the non-renewable energy resources worth millions of years have been depleted. This indiscriminate and irresponsible usage has created an environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportion which will be difficult to deal. The primary thesis and focus of this paper is to analyze the positive benefits of photovoltaic cells technology on our ongoing war against carbon pollution in our environment which cause acid rain, global warming and smog.

This report will also look into the aspects about the effectiveness of photovoltaic technology in addressing the problems of greenhouse emissions and microclimate changes.

Completed Research

The main arguments of this research are land use, greenhouse emissions, depletion of non-renewable energies and microclimate changes. From my initial research it appears that photovoltaic technology has larger potential applications than wind energy, nuclear energy and carbon storage.

Greenhouse emissions

Early research has shown that photovoltaic technology delivers clean and efficient electricity however there might be some emissions in large-scale plants as a result of abnormal operation which can be hazardous to the environment. Photovoltaic cells with the present day technology have relatively higher greenhouse emissions compared to nuclear energy and wind energy. This technology also has higher gas emissions when installed in low irrigation areas. Greenhouse gas emissions are now in the range of 25-32 g/kWh and this might decrease to 15 g/kWh in the future [2]. Therefore PV energy systems hold high hopes to mature as a low-carbon energy source for various applications.

Reduction of uses of non-renewable energy

Renewable energy resources like wind and solar energies don't deplete. It has been noted that since 1990, our consumption of fossil fuel has doubled at the rate of every 20 years [8]. The amount of fossil fuels required to generate electricity could be reduced with the deployment of photovoltaic technology. Photovoltaic power generation works essentially the same as generation from fossil fuels except that instead of using steam produced from the combustion of fossil fuels, the steam is produced by the heat collected from sunlight. The large scale implementation would result in a considerable reduction in emissions, namely by about 2 tons per person per year by assuming global population at 7 billion [7].

Microclimate change

The temperature attained by the Photovoltaic's during its normal course of operation is around 70o C because of its infrared component in solar radiation which results in the heating of surrounding areas [1]. This is due to the temperature reached by the module because of the dark surfaces receiving the same amount of heat. For this reason the photovoltaic cells are equipped with proper ventilation to prevent overheating.

Remaining Research

I am studying further to learn about the waste products produced during its production that may damage the environment. I have also listed references which provide additional information. In particular, I plan to research the various waste products such as silicon and cadmium. At this stage I assume my research to be complete at about 85%.

Conclusion

The initial research has shown that photovoltaic technology has advantages as well as disadvantages with regard to our environment. When this technology matures in due course of time then its conversion efficiency would be much better than what it is today and this would bring much better benefit than what it is foreseen today.

Reference:

  1. Chiabrando, R., Fabrizio, E., & Garnero, G. (2009). The territorial and landscape impacts of photovoltaic systems: Definition of impacts and assessment of the glare risk. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13(9), 2441-2451. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2009.06.008
  2. de Wild-Scholten, M., & Alsema, E. (2004). Towards cleaner solar PV: Environmental and health impacts of crystalline silicon photovoltaics. Refocus, 5(5), 46-49. doi:DOI: 10.1016/S1471-0846(04)00225-2
  3. Fthenakis, V. (2009). Sustainability of photovoltaics: The case for thin-film solar cells. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13(9), 2746-2750. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2009.05.001
  4. Khne, H. -., & Aulich, H. (1992). Assessment of present and future potential. Energy Policy, 20(9), 847-860.
  5. Trieb, F., Langni, O., & Klai, H. (1997). Solar electricity generationA comparative view of technologies, costs and environmental impact. Solar Energy, 59(1-3), 89-99. doi:DOI: 10.1016/S0038-092X(97)80946-2
  6. Tsoutsos, T., Frantzeskaki, N., & Gekas, V. (2005). Environmental impacts from the solar energy technologies. Energy Policy, 33(3), 289-296.
  7. Hans-Peter Bader,Ruth Scheidegger,&Markus Real.(2006). Global renewable energies: a dynamic study of implementation time, greenhouse gas emissions and financial needs.Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy,8(3),159-193.
  8. Energy resources: fossil fuels. (2010, January 11). Retrieved from http://www.darvill.clara.net/altenerg/fossil.htm#dis

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