Harnessing Solar Energy through Photovoltaic Power Production
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Photovoltaic power production (PV power production) is the use of sunlight that ultimately produces electricity as a harnessed product. The photovoltaic aspect of the process involves solar panels positioned in areas which are positioned in areas exposed to ample amounts of sunlight, harnessed by the panel, and used to heat liquid within a sealed system. That liquid flows through the system as pressure builds, ultimately moving past turbines that are spun to generate the static charge. The electricity produced by PV systems uses a free energy source (the sun) to facilitate that movement and create the electrical product.
Through the use of a free and sustainable fuel source, several issues that have plagued power production for decades can be solved. First and most important is the fact that burning fossil fuels to create the same movement in turbines creates pollution and potentially negatively impacts the environment as a whole. This has been a concern for many years by those who see increased power production to satisfy the population’s growing needs as a significant contributing factor to many environmental problems. Second is the dwindling supply of things to burn, resulting from that shortage and the increased prices for fuel. This short supply translates to rising energy production costs and higher bills for consumers. This cost could be nearly eliminated by using a free fuel source like wind or solar.
Challenges and Costs: Lightning Strikes and Power Surge Risks in Solar Power Production
The costs surrounding solar power production involve the equipment and mostly the repair and maintenance of that equipment. Because solar panels must be built in unobstructed places where they can best capture sunlight, they become the natural targets for lightning strikes. Lightning chooses the path of least resistance on its way to the earth, and if the solar panels are the closest structure within the range of that lightning, it will strike there. While this will cause the apparent destruction of the panel that is struck, a far more costly expense is that a massive power surge is created after the strike.
This power surge moves along the connectivity lines that join the panels with the sensitive equipment used in the process, overwhelming and damaging it. The surge leads to not only the need for equipment repair at the panel but also system downtime taking the system offline due to damage. Because the system is not producing even though the free fuel source is available, losses in the production of the actual product occur. Not having the ability to produce power makes the systems less efficient and limits the capacities created for a fixed price. Because of the associated cost of repair and maintenance, solar can cost more than fossil fuels in many cases. Through the integration of PV surge protection systems, these costs can be dramatically reduced, leading to a more viable method of production and reduced cost.