Solar energy is the transfer of the irradiation from the Sun into useful energy. This may be in the form of heating matter or using the phenomenon of silica excitation which produces electricity.
Pretty well all large solar power plants use the first principle, where the suns' rays are focused on a boiler to make steam, which in turn goes to a conventional steam turbine linked to a generator unit, which feeds power to the grid.
All domestic and commercial property solar power generation systems however use the second approach - Photovoltaic solar panels (Photovoltaic or PV is the technical term for solar electrical energy - the word is derived from Phot, a unit of illumination, + Volt, a unit of electrical potential)
That PV electricity is fed into batteries as direct current through a solar charge controller (sometimes called a regulator, similar to the voltage regulator in every car through which the car battery is charged).
That electricity is released on demand from the batteries by using an inverter, which converts direct current into alternating current. The electricity is thus provided to the end user in the form most know - that which comes out of the plug in the wall to power appliances - or to the bulbs which light the room when we turn on the switch. In Spain this is 230 volt 50 cycle alternating current.
Spanish Solar is a supplier of solar energy-to-electricity systems
Our concept is to supply equipment kits which can be assembled by any competent Do-It-Yourselfer using tools found in most households. We write purpose made installation instructions for all kit customers, and are available for email or phone consultation during assembly.
The kits do not include panel frames, screws and plugs to fix the equipment to a wall, nor the consumer electrical box, which you need no matter whether it is fed by the mains or a solar system. The manual will however list what our customer should buy in the way of Dexion type frame materials, screws, plugs, and consumer box. These items are in stock at any large hardware store, if you do not have them in your own garage or workshop. It makes no sense to ship these widely available and low cost items across the country.
The kits do include all direct current cables (usually quite thick and not stocked in most hardware stores). Up to 20 meters from solar panels to controller and 3 meters of cable from controller to batteries as well as 3 meters from batteries to inverter, are supplied. All cables are fitted with appropriate terminals, because fitting those requires specialist tools. Direct current fuses and isolators are supplied.
Before order confirmation we will have had a dialogue with each customer about tailoring the kit layout to suit their particular circumstance and will have worked out with them the length of cabling to be supplied. At this stage we also will have spoken about their location and made sure that the insolation (the amount of solar energy falling at their location) fits our standard kit design. System balance is optimized for Southern Spain. If the location is in the North in an area that has frequent cloudy periods, adding more panel watts is an option.
You will need a place to put the panels in full sun. They should face due South, and the frame is designed so they are moved in a vertical direction 4 times per year to obtain maximum benefit from the height of the Summer, Winter and Spring/Autumn sun. The angles to the vertical of those 3 season positions depend on your latitude. An option is to fit the frame on a horizontally movable manual tracker which can be rotated from East to West to follow the sun during the day.
You will need a place to install the controller and inverter out of the weather. The batteries should be in a separate and ventilated enclosure. Distances between panels, controller, batteries and inverter should be kept to a minimum to reduce power loss in the low voltage direct current cabling.
Spanish Solar also provides an Energy Survey service for modest cost
The Opinion of Spanish Solar about solar power trends
A whole industry designs and makes the components we supply. That industry is changing extremely rapidly as the world wakes up to the potential of solar energy, which has resulted in higher demand - and as in all human activity that demand is followed by rationalization of the supply chain. Solar energy, and in particular domestic and commercial property electricity generating systems are in 2010 well past the "tipping point" from "slightly quirky and eccentric" into "big business".
Public acceptance of alternative energy is a driving force, but can be ambivalent - note this recent remark about wind power, which is mirrored in remarks about the architectural impact of PV panels.
"It is almost a perfect storm for a conflict between a desire to move toward clean energy and a desire to protect some of the few remaining wild places."
-- Pete Didisheim, Natural Resources Council of Maine, advocacy director
Prices of solar energy systems are reasonably stable, and most component prices are easing. As well as the general economy factor prices are coming down because of the "Volume Influence" and the move from cottage industry to mass production in countries where labour costs are low.
Also the end-user and his or her supplier is increasingly more informed and value oriented. An increase in the number of companies supplying this now very competitive market has lead to decreased margins - good for the end-user.
In our opinion the solar-to-electricity market will probably follow the pattern of all man made sectors, the cart - the car, the abacus - the computer, the map - the GPS system, the semaphore - the mobile phone …. and so on…..
Our news section is regularly updated and more information on "How it Works" and the products we supply can be found at one of the places below:-
How does Solar Energy Generation Work
Additional News Sources
Controllers www.morningstarcorp.com, www.apollo-solar.net or www.outbackpower.com/MX60.htm
Wind generators www.windenergy.com/index_wind.htm