The renewable energy sector has witnessed remarkable growth in the last decade as societies worldwide have recognized the importance of transitioning to clean and sustainable energy sources. While much of the UK’s renewable energy strategy revolves around Wind and Hydrogen, Solar Power has also emerged as a frontrunner in the UK, capturing an increasingly significant slice of the renewable energy market. In fact, the government’s plan for strategic energy independence targets increasing the current 14GW Solar capacity fivefold by 2035.
Solar Photovoltaic technology is clearly one of the rising stars in the UK’s renewable energy industry, currently providing over 4% of the energy generated in the UK for consumption. Any sensible plan for the ongoing transition towards sustainable energy solutions features Solar technology, but how exactly does the average consumer benefit from it? At Cahill Renewables, we’re constantly working to stay at the forefront of advancements in Solar PV technology. Stay with us and we’ll tell you about how new developments are bringing down Solar panel installation costs, improving the efficiency and capacity of Solar energy generation, and ushering in a new wave of Solar PV installation benefits with exciting new technologies.
Installing Solar PV at your property can bring a multitude of benefits over traditional energy sources, both on a personal and environmental level. While it’s always a great choice for the environment, it can be a good choice for your wallet too. By installing Solar Panels on your roof, you can reduce the cost of your yearly energy bill by drawing energy directly from the sun. This energy is converted into electrical current, which you can use to either power your appliances and reduce your draw from the national grid, or top up solar batteries that store excess energy if your Solar generation is making more than your house needs.
If you’re running a particularly productive Solar setup, you may even find that you’re able to run your household, keep your batteries full, and sell off your excess generation back to the grid to further subsidize your system! This is quite common in the summer months. However, your maximum power generation will depend on several factors such as the size, direction, and pitch of your roof, as well as shading. Thankfully, there have been several key advances in Solar technology that improve the efficiency of modern installs. Let’s have a look at a few of them.
Solar Panels aren’t 100% efficient even in the middle of a desert, but researchers are continuously working towards improving Solar power efficiency. The hard limit on efficiency is due to the construction of the semiconductors used to build the photoactive components of the panel. Innovations such as Monocrystalline silicon cells and Bifacial Solar Panels have increased that efficiency limit, making Solar PV installations more productive and cost-efficient.
One choice you’re probably going to come across while purchasing Solar Panels is whether to buy panels powered by Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline silicon cells. These types of silicon make up the actual Solar modules contained in the panel, so you’ll find them in almost all modern residential installs. In essence, Monocrystalline silicon uses a single piece of silicon that has been machined down into the panel. By comparison, Polycrystalline silicon produces panels that are a composite of several different melted pieces of silicon. You’re most likely to come across Monocrystalline panels nowadays, as Polycrystalline is very much an old and outdated technology, especially in domestic Solar installations.
They’re easily visually distinguished, as Monocrystalline panels are almost totally black and Polycrystalline have more of a blue tone. Most importantly, Monocrystalline panels have a greater base efficiency and are generally considered a premium product. Both types are rated for a lifetime of around 25 years, but Monocrystalline panels also generally perform more efficiently in high-temperature environments.
Bifacial Solar Panels have significantly increased the amount of energy generated. While traditional Solar Panels only absorb energy from a single side, these panels are designed to capture sunlight from both the front and back surfaces. The number one question we get about Bifacial panels is “Why should I install them when they don’t face the sun?” Well, the answer is quite simple. Bifacial panels are designed to capture the ambient light reflected underneath your panels. After all, it’s not like you’ll need a flashlight to see under your panels. Sunlight is constantly hitting the underside of your panel during the day, so Bifacial panels capture energy that would otherwise go to waste.
This allows the system to utilize reflected sunlight from surrounding surfaces too, such as the ground or nearby buildings. At Cahill Renewables, we install Bifacial panels as standard. This wasn’t always the case, but this innovative technology is now cheap enough to produce that we can procure it at a competitive price point and pass the savings on to you. Click here to download the brochure for our Eurener Nexa 430W+ Bifacial, dual-glass, all-black residential Solar Panel and read more about this sizable technology development within the industry. There are plenty of exciting Solar PV technology advancements out there, but we’re very interested in the rise of bifacial Solar panels as an alternative to traditional Monocrystalline panels.
Strides in technology have also improved the components that make up the rest of your Solar system. The batteries used to store the excess power you generate during the day are made up of lithium-ion, but battery storage is always improving. Researchers are actively engaged in developing innovative methods for recycling lithium and cobalt batteries, as well as exploring alternative battery materials. In line with this pursuit, Tesla has set its sights on manufacturing cobalt-free batteries in the coming years. Furthermore, scientists are investigating the use of solid-state batteries as a substitute for lithium. These batteries share similar properties while being more energy dense. These advances all contribute towards lowering the spatial impact of battery storage, making it less disruptive to store excess Solar energy generated during the day for use during periods of low sunlight or at night.
The integration of smart monitoring and optimization systems in products like SolarEdge or Tigo Optimisers has also massively improved the performance and management of Solar PV installations. These smart-systems monitor energy production on a per panel. Older monitoring systems are only capable of monitoring the output of an entire array, but per-panel monitoring allows you to detect issues or malfunctions down to the panel, as well as optimize the operation of the Solar PV system.
You can access all of this information through a single web-based dashboard, which gives you the ability to carry out real-time monitoring of the energy of your Solar Panels. Any issues with under-performance can be identified and remedied as they appear, instead of waiting until total system failure and an expensive replacement. Older array-based monitoring systems will only tell you that something is wrong with your whole array, which makes diagnosis a touch more tricky when it comes to working out which panel is faulty.
These advancements in Solar PV technology have paved the way for increased adoption of Solar power, driving the transition to clean and renewable energy sources. As research and development continue, we can expect further innovations that will continue to improve the efficiency, durability, and affordability of Solar PV installations, making them an even more attractive choice for a sustainable energy future.
Generating energy with Solar reduces strain on the national grid, in turn reducing our reliance on burning fossil fuels which releases harmful greenhouse gasses into our environment. However, Solar is so much more than just eco-friendly. Solar power has already established itself as a leading renewable energy source, but its potential goes far beyond electricity generation. As technology evolves, innovative applications of Solar power are emerging, paving the way for a sustainable and clean future.
One area where Solar power is set to make a significant impact is transportation. By integrating Solar panels into various modes of transport, we can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and contribute to cleaner mobility. Imagine Solar-powered trains silently gliding along tracks, Solar panels on the roofs of buses and trams capturing sunlight to charge their batteries, and even boats propelled by the energy of the sun. It might sound far-fetched, but all these examples have already been trialed with varying degrees of success. Solar is already used to power electric carports and it may not be very long before EVs with integrated solar panels are commercially available.
Another exciting application of Solar power lies in addressing the global challenge of water scarcity. Solar-powered desalination plants have the potential to provide a sustainable solution for regions struggling with limited freshwater resources. By harnessing the abundant energy from the sun, these plants can convert seawater into freshwater, offering a lifeline to communities facing water scarcity and reducing the strain on traditional water sources. Plus floating solar systems help power the plant whilst reducing evaporation – a win-win!
Solar power is also poised to transform agriculture and off-grid households. Integrating Solar panels into agricultural practices can power irrigation systems, greenhouse operations, and farming equipment. This integration allows farmers to reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources, decrease operating costs, and promote sustainable farming practices. Furthermore, Solar power generation for remote locations can extend beyond traditional farming, enabling new communities to be built in previously inhospitable areas through controlled environments powered by Solar energy. At Cahill Renewables, we’ve installed multiple commercial PV systems for farms across Essex and the home counties helping farms become more independent from the grid.
Solar has already come down in price by over 99% in the last four decades. As the economies of scale lead to improved manufacturing processes, Solar will continue to become cheaper and easier to install. This cost reduction over the last four decades has made already made Solar PV installations more accessible and financially viable for residential, commercial, and utility-scale projects, and we can’t wait to see where the future of Solar will take us.
The potential for Solar power is vast, especially considering the hotter and longer summers we’re now experiencing in the UK. Solar in the UK may have been an unfeasible idea 20 years ago, but with advancements in Solar PV technology, it has become possible to harness Solar energy even in less sunny areas.
Solar PV installations are revolutionizing renewable energy by offering a sustainable, cost-effective, and accessible solution for our energy needs. With the potential to tap into abundant Solar power, advancements in technology, and the increasing efficiency and capacity of Solar energy generation, Solar PV installations are playing a pivotal role in the global transition toward a greener and more sustainable future. Embracing Solar PV technology and expanding its reach will accelerate the renewable energy revolution, benefiting both the environment and society as a whole.
Ready to embrace the power of Solar energy? Contact us today to explore how Solar PV installations can revolutionize your energy consumption and contribute to a greener future.