The Future of Solar Energy – Electricity for Domestic use from Photovoltaic Cells
written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 8/28/2008
Even at present solar energy is being used for the domestic purposes for lighting the house and running appliances. The photovoltaic cells (PV cells) convert solar energy into electrical energy, which is stored in the battery and can be used at any time.
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Apart from the solar cars, another important application where solar energy has a huge potential is the production of electricity for domestic and small business use. At present we are used to the using the electricity supplied by our electricity boards. The electricity boards produce electric power at the thermal, nuclear or hydro power plants and supply to various corners of the country. But soon your homes can become independent of these boards and you can have a miniature power generation unit at your own home producing electricity from solar energy.
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Producing Electricity from Solar Energy for Domestic Purposes
The photovoltaic cells or PV cells convert solar energy directly into electrical energy which can be used for all our domestic requirements. The electrical energy produced during the daytime is stored in the battery in the form of direct current (DC) supply. The inverter connected to the battery converts DC supply to AC supply of 110V which is used to power all the domestic lightings and appliances. Thus all your domestic electricity requirements can be fulfilled by the photovoltaic cells and you won’t depend in any way on your electricity board.
Solar energy is available freely, so you won’t have to bear any costs of the fuel to produce electricity. Further, no moving parts are involved so the maintenance cost of this miniature solar power plant is almost zero.
The concept of individual miniature solar power plants using PV cells can be very popular in the countries where solar energy is available abundantly and there is acute shortage of power in the national grid. These include countries like India and number of African countries.
The government of India is planning to erect a number of nuclear power plants to fulfill India’s power requirements. Over the year the nuclear power plants have gone on to become very very expensive. If sufficient funds are invested in exploring the use of miniature solar energy power plants in individual homes, a huge burden can be reduced on the national grid and there will added advantage of safety and reduced pollution created by the thermal and nuclear power plants.
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Challenges and Prospects
The major challenge is of course the high cost of the PV cells. Their cost is bound to reduce as the technology becomes cheaper and as the PV cells are used on mass scale basis.
Another challenge is the small amount of electricity generated by the PV cells. To increase the amount of electricity generated, at present large number of layers of silicon slices are being used in the PV cells.
Third important challenge is the PV cells can generate electricity only during daytime; no energy is produced during nighttime. This problem can be overcome by installing large size batteries that can store additional power.