How is solar energy used to generate electricity?
When the semiconductors are connected in a circuit to an external load (e.g., a battery), electricity then flows in the circuit and can be stored. But that’s not the end of it! PV cells generate direct current (DC) energy, which must then be converted into an AC current using the batteries as mentioned, and inverters.
Solar panels provide an increasingly cost-effective way to capture renewable energy, especially in areas where there is significant sunlight throughout the year. However, the amount of sunlight varies significantly between regions and throughout the seasons. The availability of solar energy is an important consideration when using it as electricity, as well as demand and battery costs.
Generally, the province of Nova Scotia receives less sunlight than the Arizona desert in the summer months and even less in the winter months. In Halifax, NS there is an average solar radiation measure of 4.08 kWh/m2 per day, with a high of 5.66 in July but a low of 1.75 in December. By comparison, Phoenix, AZ has a high of 8.12 in June and a low of 4.72 in December. (Source: PVWatts Calculator)
So, if solar energy is to be used when the sun isn’t shining, batteries become an increasingly important part of using solar panels to capture energy, especially if it is needed for electricity at night or on cloudy days. However, battery technology is still not cost-effective to use as a large-scale long-term solution like during the cold winter months.
What role can solar panels have in Atlantic Canada’s energy future?