Improving Solar Efficiency through the Power of a Solar Tracker
The need for a new source of energy has slowly but surely become a hotly debated issue over the years. It is becoming apparent that the possibility of the energy status quo breaking may become real, with the dwindling stores of oil and fossil fuels in general. The increased prices for oil products, such as gasoline, are not helping either – because of these, more and more people are looking different, not to mention cheaper ways to power their cars, televisions, refrigerators, and the like. One of the more lauded alternative sources of energy that people believe is the best successor to fossil fuels is solar-powered energy.
Solar-powered energy uses sunlight to generate electricity or heat. Common solar panels work by transferring atoms that generate current into temporary storage units such as batteries. Efficiency can be improved with rotating the panels with a solar tracker. When compiled, the electricity generated by a group of solar panels can power up even objects that take in large amounts of electricity, such as automobiles. In fact, several car companies around the world specialize in creating solar powered cars, while major car manufacturers have switched from their all-fossil fuel compatible cars to developing solar powered vehicles. Some cars, boats, and even entire houses (with lighting and other houses) are now being powered entirely by solar power.
However, solar power has as much opponents as there are opponents. Many of those opposed to solar power as a permanent replacement for fossil fuel often cite solar power efficiency as one of the main criticisms of the concept. Solar power efficiency is the rate of conversion between the sunlight absorbed by the solar panels, and the electricity or heat generated. Current solar power technologies have not yet improved to the point that absorption and conversion is maximized – the most efficient solar power technologies only have a 19% conversion rate. Another issue with solar power is its high consumption rate – most of the electricity stored through solar power is easily spent. Because of this, proponents have been struggling to improve solar-power efficiency.
One of the devices that have been created to improve solar power efficiency is the solar tracking system, or the solar tracker. Solar trackers came into popularity during the 1980’s and 1990’s, when companies began to produce solar trackers fresh out of the gas crises of the 1970’s. Although small companies were one of the first to produce and market solar trackers, increase in interest came in the form of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission when they promoted over 279.54 megawatts worth of installed solar trackers. Many successors and predecessors have echoed the same sentiments, continuously developing and improving devices such as the solar tracker to increase solar power output.
The main function of a solar tracker is to ‘chase’ the sunlight as its maximum point of output moves throughout the day.
Thus, from sunrise to sunset, a solar tracker can manage to absorb more of the sunlight released by the sun. Through this method, a solar tracker can take in the optimal amount of sunlight output for the whole day, making up for its slightly weak capacity with massive amounts of intake. With more technologies such as the solar tracker on the way, it is with a sense of hope that solar power supporters look forward to a more environmentally-conscious future, with the problem solar panels efficiency completely eliminated.