05 Aug Remarkable Solar Energy Utilizations for a Sustainable City: Over 1.47 Million Solar Panels Installed Across US
Solar energy is the one of the most sustainable resources on the planet, it’s free, infinite, and it’s just there, out in the open. Traditionally, people use the heat of the sun to help them with salt production, plantation growth, laundries, sunbathing, and etc. Now with modern technology, human can harness the power of the sun and convert it into electricity, thanks to solar panels. You might have seen solar panel usage somewhere, perhaps on a roof of a house, or on a roof of a car. Utilizing solar power to juice up an object, which we will cover here.
Solar Panels and How It Work
Solar panel, also known as Photo-Voltaic (PV) panel, is a flat or curved components which capable to transform the heat and light from solar energy into electricity. The heat and light from the sun contains particles of energy called “photons”, and with the panels, these photons were transformed into electricity. The beginning of this invention takes back to 1893, where Charles Fritts create the first genuine solar cell which was formed by coating sheets of selenium with a thin layer of gold, the humble beginning of solar panel.
48 years later in 1941, an American inventor Russel Ohl, patented the world’s first silicon solar cell, and this invention will lead into a mass production of the first solar panel we know and love in 1954. The first mainstream use of these solar energy panels are for space satellites, pretty sure you’ve seen it somewhere. Now in modern times, the use of these panels is even more mainstream, it’s on your house, it’s on your car, it’s on your phone powerbank, it’s on a calculator, and it’s even powering Google’s headquarters in California.
In a very simple words, solar panel will collect photons out of solar energy and convert it into electricity which can then be used to provide power for electrical loads. Solar cell is made out of three layers of silicon, phosphorous (which provides the negative charge), and boron (which provides the positive charge). The panels will absorb the photons and initiate an electric current, which allows Photovoltaic Effect to happen. Bear with me as we explain the process of Photovoltaic Effect.
The electric current allows electrons to be knocked out of their atomic orbits and released into the electric field generated by the solar cells which then pull these free electrons into a directional current. Those free electrons were the electricity we’re looking for, and the directional current are saving it in a battery bank. Good news is, all average home has more than enough space of installment on it’s roof, to produce enough solar electricrity to supply all of its power needed during the night.
What’s So Good About Them?
Living in a solar energy powered home has it’s perks, let’s start by the fact that your house is not powered by the main electric utility grid in the neighborhood, we call it the off-grid living. You’ll no longer have to pay huge fees for the installation of electric utility poles and cabling from the nearest main grid access point, solar electric system is potentially less expensive and it’s serve just as good as the main grid electricity. Imagine a scenario where blackout happened in your neighborhood, that won’t be your concern, you have backup energy.
Solar energy is clean and renewable, useful for those who wished to do their part to tackle climate change. Without we realize, solar panels reduce the pressure on our atmosphere from the emission of greenhouse gases. This device has no moving parts and require little maintenance. Installing it would cost you a dime, but after the installation is complete, you can enjoy sustainable electricity for 15-20 years (depending on the quality of the panels) absolutely free of charge, no longer will you worry about electricity bills.
Speaking of climate change action, you might interested in: Climate Action: 5 Reasons Why the World Should Combat Climate Change
Utilization for a Sustainable City
Over 1.47 millions of solar panels were installed across the United States. In 2013, the number of cities in the US that fully utilize solar energy were 8 cities, in 2019 that number jumped to 26 cities. The US ranked second in terms of solar PV deployments behind China. Solar devices installed in the US has reached 77.7 gigawatts (GW) in terms of capacity. America’s major cities have played a key role in this clean energy revolution by harnessing the power of the sun, hundred thousands of Americans have invested in solar power.
California is leading among other states in terms of solar energy usage, with over 26,000 megawatt solar power installed. Other states in the US that greatly utilize solar power were North Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Indiana, New York, and more. In California alone, there is Los Angeles (483.8 megawatt), San Diego (420.38 megawatt), and San Jose (223. 67 megawatt), three solar powered sustainable cities in one state, this is obvious as California was the first state that implement solar powered sustainable city.
In Phoenix, Arizona, solar power has reached 272.4 megawatt in capacity, right below Honolulu, Hawaii who has 292.12 megawatt. San Antonio, Texas has 254.47 megawatt in capacity, followed by New York with 244.78 megawatt solar PV installed. Indianapolis, the capital city of Indiana has installed 122.28 megawatt worth of solar PV. Lastly, the city of casino and gamble Las Vegas, Nevada has an installed solar energy capacity of 105.79 megawatt. These data were taken from Shining Cities 2020: The Top US Cities for Solar Energy.