ELECTRICITY MADE SIMPLE 6: Solar Power System 1


PROLOGUE

In concluding EMS series 5 on Cables, we asked our readers to help us choose the next topic to be discussed and the majority chose solar power system. We thank all those who responded; we are encouraged.

In other to satisfy the broad spectrum of readers of this series (Experts, Students, Sub-experts, novice, hobbyist and non-technical persons), we are hereby soliciting for areas of Solar Power systems you want us to cover or the areas you are finding difficult to understand.

 

You may drop your comments here: http://shaybisnigltd.com/contact/

 

Thank you for your anticipated kind response.

 

INTRODUCTION

Solar Power System, SPS, is a member of the renewable energy sources used in generating Electricity as a standalone or distributed grid scale power system. Solar energy system is not as recent as many of my readers would believe, as one of the largest solar plant in the world with installed capacity of 354MW (about 10% of Nigeria’s current total generation), commenced operations in 1986, and upgraded in 1990. It is located in the Mojave Desert of California, USA.

 

However, current world’s largest solar power plant, the Zengher solar park, is in China with installed capacity of 1,547MW. It was installed in 2015. The biggest Solar power plant in Nigeria is rated 1MW.

 

Since Solar belongs to a group of Energy sources converted or used to produce Electricity, called renewable energy sources, we shall discuss Renewable Energy briefly in this first part of Solar Power System as bases for an understanding of solar and its place in the Electricity Energy matrix of the world.

 

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources are those sources of energy that are considered inexhaustible, that is, they cannot finish or better still, they are always available; hence the use of the term, renewable.

They naturally replace or replenish automatically by natural environmental factors in proportion to consumption.

Examples of renewable energy sources are water in a river, ray of light from sun, biogas from biological waste and so on. The additional benefit of renewable energy sources is that they have little or no negative effect on the environment.

 

However, non-renewable sources of energy are finite and by definition going to finish someday, because they don’t automatically and/or naturally replace themselves at the pace they are being consumed. Examples are Coal, Gas and Oil. For example, Nigeria oil wells are estimated to dry off in 25 years.

 

The other side effect of nonrenewable energy is that they emit carbon, which affects the ozone balance of the earth. This in turn causes huge effect on global climate; part of the effect of which is the current global warming we are experiencing. This in turn affects agricultural production in parts of the world. It also causes drought,  heat wave and so on.

 

TYPES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES

Note that we have been describing sources of energy that can be converted to Electricity. They cannot on their own produce electricity, which is why we are describing them as sources of energy, which can be converted to produce electricity.

 

As stated in the first part of EMS series, we hereby list some sources of energy that can be converted to Electricity:

 

  • Hydro– damming of water flow to drive turbines which generates electricity
  • Geothermal-which uses the heated water/steam from the earth to drive electric power generators
  • Biomass-which harness the gas generated from biological waste to drive electricity generators
  • Wind– uses the power of the wind to drive electric power generators
  • Solar-which harness the light from the sun and converts it to electricity

 

For the records, these energy sources can actually be converted to other forms of energy as the application is determined. For example, light from the sun can be used to heat special materials for food preservation and even as water heater for home use.

 

For this part, we are concerned with solar power system. We shall be discussing, the technology, how it works, how to determine your need and social factors of solar power system. If requested, we would demonstrate how you can design your own solar power system for domestic use.

 

Because of the fast rising importance of this great technology to our modern life and how it can help us in developing nations rapidly industrialize, I would end with a quote for Goldman Sach’s website:

 

Falling wind and solar costs are set to spur even greater investment in renewable technologies. Goldman Sachs Research’s Alberto Gandolfi forecasts that by 2023, renewables will be able to operate without government subsidies. From there, Gandolfi expects wind and solar deployment to accelerate, reaching $3 trillion over the next 20 years”.

 

Solar power is definitely an enchanting technology that can help accelerate the developmental aspiration of developing economies; so let us explore a bit!

 

Next: What is solar power system?

 

 

©Tunde Y. Salihu, 2017

234-803 324 6068

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