Solar Power Plant Schematic Diagram

Solar Power Plant Schematic Diagram:


A solar cell, or photovoltaic cell (PV), is a device that converts light into electric current using the photoelectric effect. This is based on the discovery by Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel who noticed that some materials release electrons when hit with rays of photons from light, which produces an electrical current. The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. Although the prototype selenium cells converted less than 1% of incident light into electricity, both Ernst Werner von Siemens and James Clerk Maxwell recognized the importance of this discovery. Following the work of Russell Ohl in the 1940s, researchers Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin created the silicon solar cell in 1954. These early solar cells cost 286 USD/watt and reached efficiencies of 4.5–6%. As of late 2009, the highest efficieincy PV cells were produced commercially by Boeing/SpectroLab at about 41%. Other, similar, multi-layer cells are close. These are breathtakingly expensive however, and are used only for the most exacting applications. Thin film PV cells have been developed which are made in bulk and are far less expensive and much less fragile, but are at most around 20% efficient. The most recent development (from Caltech, March 2010) is the experimental demonstration of a new design which is 85% efficient in plain sunlight and 95% efficient at certain wavelengths. It has only been produced in experimental laboratory examples, but may have some possibility for low cost bulk production in future.

There are many competing technologies, including at least fourteen types of photovoltaic cells, such as thin film, monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, and amorphous cells, as well as multiple types of concentrating solar power. It is too early to know which technology will become dominant.

The earliest significant application of solar cells was as a back-up power source to the Vanguard I satellite in 1958, which allow it to continue transmitting for over a year after its chemical battery was exhausted. The successful operation of solar cells on this mission was duplicated in many other Soviet and American satellites, and by the late 1960s, PV had become the established source of power for them. After the successful application of solar panels on the Vanguard satellite it still was not until the energy crisis, in the 1970s, that photovoltaic solar panels gained use outside of back up power suppliers on spacecraft. Photovoltaics went on to play an essential part in the success of early commercial satellites such as Telstar, and they remain vital to the telecommunications infrastructure today.

The high cost of solar cells limited terrestrial uses throughout the 1960s. This changed in the early 1970s when prices reached levels that made PV generation competitive in remote areas without grid access. Early terrestrial uses included powering telecommunication stations, offshore oil rigs, navigational buoys and railroad crossings. These off-grid applications accounted for over half of worldwide installed capacity until 2004.

The 1973 oil crisis stimulated a rapid rise in the production of PV during the 1970s and early 1980s. Economies of scale which resulted from increasing production along with improvements in system performance brought the price of PV down from 100 USD/watt in 1971 to 7 USD/watt in 1985. Steadily falling oil prices during the early 1980s led to a reduction in funding for photovoltaic R&D and a discontinuation of the tax credits associated with the Energy Tax Act of 1978. These factors moderated growth to approximately 15% per year from 1984 through 1996.

Since the mid-1990s, leadership in the PV sector has shifted from the US to Japan and Europe. Between 1992 and 1994 Japan increased R&D funding, established net metering guidelines, and introduced a subsidy program to encourage the installation of residential PV systems. As a result, PV installations in the country climbed from 31.2 MW in 1994 to 318 MW in 1999, and worldwide production growth increased to 30% in the late 1990s.

Germany became the leading PV market worldwide since revising its feed-in tariffs as part of the Renewable Energy Sources Act. Installed PV capacity in Germany has risen from 100 MW in 2000 to approximately 4,150 MW at the end of 2007. After 2007, Spain became the largest PV market after adopting a similar feed-in tariff structure in 2004, installing almost half of the photovoltaics (45%) in the world, in 2008, while France, Italy, South Korea and the U.S. have seen rapid growth recently due to various incentive programs and local market conditions. The power output of domestic photovoltaic devices is usually described in kilowatt-peak (kWp) units, as most are from 1 to 10 kW.

Concentrating photovoltaics (CVP) are another new method of electricity generation from the sun. CPV systems employ sunlight concentrated onto photovoltaic surfaces for the purpose of electrical power production. Solar concentrators of all varieties may be used, which are often mounted on a solar tracker in order to keep the focal point upon the cell as the sun moves across the sky. Tracking can increase flat panel photovoltaic output by 20% in winter, and by 50% in summer.

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Solar Power Plant

Solar power plants is the generation of electricity from sunlight. This can be direct as with photovoltaics (PV), or indirect as with concentrating solar power (CSP), where the sun's energy is focused to boil water which is then used to provide power. Solar power has the potential to provide over 1,000 times total world energy consumption in 2008, though it provided only 0.02% of the total that year. If it continues to double in use every two to three years, or less, it would become the dominant energy source this century. The largest solar power plants, like the 354 MW SEGS, are concentrating solar thermal plants, but recently multi-megawatt photovoltaic plants have been built. Completed in 2008, the 46 MW Moura photovoltaic power station in Portugal and the 40 MW Waldpolenz Solar Park in Germany are characteristic of the trend toward larger photovoltaic power stations. Much larger ones are proposed, such as the 100 MW Fort Peck Solar Farm, the 550 MW Topaz Solar Farm, and the 600 MW Rancho Cielo Solar Farm.

Terrestrial solar power plants is a predictably intermittent energy source, meaning that whilst solar power is not available at all times, we can predict with a very good degree of accuracy when it will and will not be available. Some technologies, such as solar thermal concentrators have an element of thermal storage, such as molten salts. These store spare solar energy in the form of heat which can be made made available overnight or during periods that solar power is not available to produce electricity. Orbital solar power collection (as in solar power satellites) avoids this intermittent issue, but requires satellite launching and beaming of the collected power to receiving antennas on Earth. The increased intensity of sunlight above the atmosphere also increases generation efficiency.

Solar Energy Power Plants Applications
Solar power plants is the conversion of sunlight to electricity. Sunlight can be converted directly into electricity using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly with concentrating solar power (CSP), which normally focuses the sun's energy to boil water which is then used to provide power, and technologies such as the Stirling engine dishes which use a Stirling cycle engine to power a generator. Photovoltaics were initially used to power small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to off-grid homes powered by a photovoltaic array.

Solar power plants can face high installation costs, although this has been decreasing due to the learning curve. Developing countries have started to build solar power plants, replacing other sources of energy generation.

Solar power has great potential, but in 2008 supplied only 0.02% of the world's total energy supply. However, use has been doubling every two, or less, years, and at that rate solar power, which has the potential to supply over 1,000 times the total consumption of energy, would become the dominant energy source within a few decades.

Since solar radiation is intermittent, solar power generation is combined either with storage or other energy sources to provide continuous power, although for small distributed producer/consumers, net metering makes this transparent to the consumer. On a larger scale, in Germany, a combined power plant has been demonstrated, using a mix of wind, biomass, hydro-, and solar power generation, resulting in 100% renewable energy.

Concentrating solar power

A legend claims that Archimedes used polished shields to concentrate sunlight on the invading Roman fleet and repel them from Syracuse. Auguste Mouchout used a parabolic trough to produce steam for the first solar steam engine in 1866.

Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. The concentrated heat is then used as a heat source for a conventional power plant. A wide range of concentrating technologies exists; the most developed are the parabolic trough, the concentrating linear fresnel reflector, the Stirling dish and the solar power tower. Various techniques are used to track the Sun and focus light. In all of these systems a working fluid is heated by the concentrated sunlight, and is then used for power generation or energy storage.

A parabolic trough consists of a linear parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned along the reflector's focal line. The receiver is a tube positioned right above the middle of the parabolic mirror and is filled with a working fluid. The reflector is made to follow the Sun during the daylight hours by tracking along a single axis. Parabolic trough systems provide the best land-use factor of any solar technology. The SEGS plants in California and Acciona's Nevada Solar One near Boulder City, Nevada are representatives of this technology. The Suntrof-Mulk parabolic trough, developed by Melvin Prueitt, uses a technique inspired by Archimedes' principle to rotate the mirrors.

Concentrating Linear Fresnel Reflectors are CSP-plants which use many thin mirror strips instead of parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto two tubes with working fluid. This has the advantage that flat mirrors can be used which are much cheaper than parabolic mirrors, and that more reflectors can be placed in the same amount of space, allowing more of the available sunlight to be used. Concentrating linear fresnel reflectors can be used in either large or more compact plants.

A Stirling solar dish, or dish engine system, consists of a stand-alone parabolic reflector that concentrates light onto a receiver positioned at the reflector's focal point. The reflector tracks the Sun along two axes. Parabolic dish systems give the highest efficiency among CSP technologies. The 50 kW Big Dish in Canberra, Australia is an example of this technology. The Stirling solar dish combines a parabolic concentrating dish with a Stirling heat engine which normally drives an electric generator. The advantages of Stirling solar over photovoltaic cells are higher efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity and longer lifetime. A solar power tower uses an array of tracking reflectors (heliostats) to concentrate light on a central receiver atop a tower. Power towers are more cost effective, offer higher efficiency and better energy storage capability among CSP technologies. The Solar Two in Barstow, California and the Planta Solar 10 in Sanlucar la Mayor, Spain are representatives of this technology.

A solar bowl is a spherical dish mirror that is fixed in place. The receiver follows the line focus created by the dish (as opposed to a point focus with tracking parabolic mirrors).