Economic Impacts Of Renewable Energy

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Coal has been the favoured source for energy generation for centuries, due to its reliability and relatively low cost. However, with coal reserves slowly diminishing due to the ever-increasing demand for energy, renewable energy sources are becoming more popular. Renewable energy is energy harvested through natural processes like sunlight and wind. These sources are replenished faster than they are consumed, and the methods used to convert them to energy do not create any pollution. Simple applications involving renewable energies range from using biomass (wood and animal dung) to fuel fires, to harnessing the power of wind in sails on ships to using the sun’s energy to grow plants in greenhouses. As technology advanced, more intricate methods…show more content…
This could lead to habitat loss from the damage to the natural flora and fauna of the area. CSP plants require water for cooling during general operation, however dry-cooling technology can be used, but the energy output is not as efficient. The method used for manufacturing photovoltaic cells involves many hazardous materials, including hydrochloric, sulphuric and nitric acid. Thin-film cells also contain toxic materials and can pose environmental and health risks if not handled and disposed of properly. (Environmental Impacts of Solar Power. 2013) 2.2. Economic Impact Solar collectors and photovoltaic cells are still relatively expensive, but this is subject to change over time, as more cost-efficient means of production may be found. At this point, solar energy generation, unfortunately, involves a high capital cost. Apart from the cost of the equipment, installation requires skilled labour and is not cheap (this is true for any mass energy generating equipment). The resource, however, is completely free. After initial costs, maintenance is fairly cheap, as the solar panels contain no moving parts and are less likely to break down. Sun tracking equipment may require additional maintenance, but much less so than traditional energy generation…show more content…
Energy generation is also not hindered by cold weather. Low temperatures actually improve the operation of photovoltaic panels, due to the behaviour of electrons in a circuit regarding temperature. This means cold, yet sunny areas are the most geographically ideal for solar energy generation. (How does cold weather impact on solar PV performance? 2015) 2.4. Energy Yield For the greatest energy yield, solar panels must aim to maximize their exposure time to sunlight. This is best done by solar trackers that orientate the panels to follow the sun. On a very cloudy day, a photovoltaic panel will generate about 40% of the electricity it would on a clear and sunny day. (How does cold weather impact on solar PV performance? 2015) The energy output is determined based on the efficiency of the panel and the amount of ‘full sun hours’ (hours of direct sunlight) the area receives. The amount of full sunlight hours on average depends on the geographical location of the area in relation to the equator (as explained previously,) and the weather of said area. Energy conversion efficiencies range anywhere from 15% for commercially available photovoltaic panels to 35.8% (non-concentrator cells) used mainly on space satellites. (Sharp develops solar cell with world’s highest conversion efficiency of 35.8%,

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