As some of you might already know, July 4th will be national Solar Independence Day; an event dedicated to raising awareness of about everything related to solar panels. This fantastic celebration is already inspiring developers across the across, including a number of British solar farms who will be opening their doors just for the occasion.

The event is being organised by the Solar Trade Association – the premiere authorities in using solar energy for all of our electricity needs. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the environmental, economical, and social benefits of using solar panels. Furthermore, this day is also intended to counteract some of the negative press which has surrounded some poorly-organised solar panel projects in Britain.

At the Green Deal Shop, we hope this will be a fantastic opportunity for schools and local councils to get together and learn more about the benefits of solar power. Overall, solar panels are one of the most effective ways of cutting down on our carbon footprint and sourcing our fuel in an eco-friendly way. They are also more unassuming that wind farms, for example, and can be utilised by the vast majority of households in the UK.

So, in preparation for Solar Independence Day 2014, here is a blog about all the questions you ever had about solar panels. From the silicon cells which power solar panels, to their everyday application, we have all the facts you could possibly need.

How do solar cells work?

Solar cells are the key piece of technology that make solar panels function. They are also known as photovoltaic cells; relying purely on light emitted by the sun and transferring this energy into electricity. To make a solar panel, multiple cells are combined into an integrated group, known as an array, and laid flat on the panel surface.

Photons, from sunlight, are then absorbed by the solar cells which are able to conduct the light because of their silicon properties. As a result, electrons are created and the current is transported through the panels and fed back into the household.

Interesting, solar technology has actually been around for some time now. They were first invented in 1839 by the French physicist, Edmond Becquerel. He created the first photovoltaic cell at the age of just 19. Ever since, solar cells have been used for a variety of diverse and unusual purposes. The International Space Station, for example, has massive Bifacial solar panels which provide the station with the majority of their energy needs.

What are the benefits of solar panels?

There are numerous benefits to solar panels, especially for people who want to use this technology for their everyday energy needs.

First of all, solar panels are wonderfully energy efficient and prevent households from having to rely on fossil fuels. Sunlight is free and solar panels succeed in being able to harness energy from the sun even when it’s not shining. This is because the cells are so sensitive and can detect even the smallest amount of light. In addition to this, solar panels do not emit any harmful carbon dioxide and pollute our atmosphere. According to the Energy Saving Trust, solar panels have the capacity to save more than 30 tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime. How amazing is that?

In this day and age, we are all concerned about lessening our carbon footprint and being more eco-friendly. Fortunately, solar panels go some way in achieving this and it looks like they’re here to stay.

In addition to this, when people invest in solar panels, it also helps them to cut down on their monthly energy bills too. By not relying on the major 6 grid companies for their energy sources, it affords individuals much more independence and peace of mind. They have direct control of how they source their electricity; meaning that they could save hundreds of pounds on an annual basis.

How do solar panels benefit our economy?

You might be surprised to learn that solar panels have a significant role in improving and maintaining our economy. In Scotland, for example, many farms are being subsidised by the Scottish government for establishing renewable energy systems on their property. This helps to support local farmers and provide communities with clean sources of energy. Any energy surpluses can then be sold back to the grid companies for public redistribution.

In addition to this, the Green Deal scheme is providing thousands of jobs for manufacturers, assessors, and installers of solar panels throughout England and Wales. According to recent statistics, the majority of fittings that British households use in the Green Deal scheme is solar panels. This is because they are incredibly efficient and require very little maintenance over their lifetime.

With this in mind, solar panels are a fundamental part of our economy; helping to support our agricultural and engineering industrials on an unprecedented scale.

How easy is it to install solar panels?

Solar Panels are one of the most popular energy-saving devices that people have installed in their home. In terms of their cost, the average domestic solar PV system (4kWp) is priced between £6000 and £7000. This is a significant drop compared to recent years when they could cost almost double that amount. However, these prices do vary depending on the provider.

There are several ways that you can have solar panels into installed into your home. One of the most common ways is having panels placed on top of your roof. This is a very advantageous position, allowing for maximum sunlight, and it’s also one of the cheapest options available. Alternatively, some people also have solar panels built into their rooftop, meaning that they’re more secure and easier to maintain. However, this convenience is comes at a price and thus less popular.

Alternatively, people who own large areas of land can opt to have solar panels installed directly onto the ground. This is a very effective method, but isn’t always practical for people who live in urban households. Although solar panels are very strong, they suit minimal interference and shouldn’t be subjected to unnecessary human contact.

How will solar panels change in the future?

At this current point in time, solar panels are made with silicon fuel cells which absorb sunlight and convert this energy to electricity. However, this might not be the most efficient method in harnessing energy from the sun. A leading scientist from The University of Illinois, John Rodgers, has recently found a way to make solar panels much more productive. Instead of using one cell, he has designed a prototype which is made up of 4 cells stacked on top of each other. This is hugely effective, as you might expect, and can increase solar panels’ productivity by nearly 50%.

Another development in the solar power industry is the creation of ultra-thin solar cells. Studies from the Michigan Institute of Technology have demonstrated that panels can be made from materials only 2-molecules thick. The first layer of molecules is graphene (known for its incredible strength) and molybdenum disulfide. When combined, these solar panels are 1000 times thinner than traditional models. This also makes the panels remarkably lightweight and easy to transport.

In the future, therefore, it seems likely that solar panels will become much more powerful. As this technology becomes more widespread, it’s also plausible that a larger proportion of households will turn to solar panels for their energy needs.

The availability of solar panels is likely to increase in the future too. In China, for instance, there is a huge industry developing dedicated purely to manufacturing and distributing solar panels. This means that the price for energy-efficient technology is decreasing at a rapid speed, allowing solar panels to become much easier to afford than in the past. If all goes well, then it’s plausible that solar technology will be the primary provider of green energy in the future.

Solar Independence Day

Returning to the theme of Solar Independence Day, the purpose of this event is to highlight some of the key issues that we’ve mentioned so far in this blog. As you can see, there’s a lot more to solar panels that shiny surfaces. They are an invaluable tool for providing clean, eco-friendly technology to a household. Solar panels are also indispensable to our economy; helping to support our farmers and local economies throughout the UK.

If you are interested in visiting a solar farm on Solar Independence Day, here is a list of all the solar films which will be open for public visitations throughout Solar Independence Day:

East of England

Burntstalks Solar Farm, Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Chediston Solar Farm, Bonners Farm, Mull Road, Wissett, Halesworth, Suffolk

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Chittering Solar Farm, Chittering, Cambridge

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Haslingfield Solar Farm, Cambridge

Managed by BELECTRIC

Cantelupe Solar Farm, Haslingfield, Cambridge

Managed by BELECTRIC

East Midlands

Hollies Solar Farm, Skegness, Lincolnshire

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy & Juwi

Ketton Solar Farm, Hanson Cement Works, Rutland

Managed by Lark Energy

Marston Solar Farm, Grantham, Nottingham

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Wymeswold Solar Farm, Prestwold

Managed by Foresight Group

South East

Dunsfold Solar Farm, Cranleigh, Surrey

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Tavells Solar Farm, Marchwood, Hampshire

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Stables Farm, Shalfleet, Isle of Wight

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

South West

Marley Thatch Solar Farm, South Brent, Devon

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Wadebridge Solar Farm, Cornwall

Managed by BELECTRIC

Wheal Jane Solar Farm, Truro, Cornwall

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Crossways solar Farm, Dorchester, Dorset

Managed by British Solar Renewables

Willersey Solar Farm, Gloucestershire

Managed by BELECTRIC

Wales

Ffos Las Solar Farm, Ffos Las Racecourse, Kidwelly, Swansea

Managed by Lightsource Renewable Energy

Summary

We hope that this blog has provided you with a somewhat clearer picture of solar panels and what they’re all about. We at the greendealshop.com are experts in all types of renewable energy and have made sure that every member of staff is well-versed and well-trained when it comes to advising you.

If you are a homeowner who would like to implement some energy-saving improvements into your home, why not get in touch with us today? There’s no reason you can’t get involved in the government’s Green Deal scheme to some degree, and if you choose to, we can provide you with expert guidance and will take care of everything for you.

It’s not just homeowners who can take advantage of the Green Deal, though – business owners can too. The same sort of energy-saving and eco-friendly devices can be fitted, and you will be able to proudly say that your company is doing its bit for the environment.

When you give us a call, we will simply ask you a few questions about your home’s energy use and the sorts of fixtures you already have in place (such as what kind of boiler you have and how many people live in your home). If it sounds like you’ll benefit from the energy-saving adjustments that can be made through a Green Deal, we’ll come to your home and carry out a detailed Green Deal Assessment. If, indeed, there are eco-friendly improvements to be made to your home, we will then put you in touch with one of our Providers who will liaise with the Installer in order to get these changes implemented.

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