There is a global trend of resources depletion and environmental degradation. This problem is related to the use of huge amounts of unrecoverable resources. Fossil fuel is one of this exhaustible resources because fossil fuels are formed from the remains of organisms that require millions of years to form. To produce electricity, fossil fuels are burned. This power generation inevitably results in pollution (Kato, Kojima, Widiyanto & Maruyama, 2000).
The problem tackled in this report is power generation systems’ main dependency on fossil fuels. If these fossil fuels will continue to be consumed at the present rate, the reversed coal and natural gas will be exhausted by the year 2030 (Khan & Arsalan, 2016). The present power generation system therefore, must be diversified to reduce the pressure on natural gas and dependency on petroleum fuel.
This paper focuses on studying a more viable option for homes to generate electricity. Currently, all the countries across the world believe that solar energy is the best alternative solution rather than using conventional types of energy (Samparo & González, 2017). The purpose, therefore, is to look into Solar Photovoltaic System, which is considered as one of the most significant types of solar energy for the advantage, which is the availability, carbon-free and clean, as a possible solution.
This research paper aims to bring to the table the problem with relying on fossil fuels as source of electricity generation and to support its solution of using PV systems with previous published research. In the next sections, the researcher will present the body of the paper: an in-depth background of the problem and arguments of the solution. The conclusion at the end will put together the relevance of the research paper.
Fossil fuels have traditionally been the main source of obtaining energy. Using this exhaustible resource, however, brings about several negative impact such as global warming and air pollution. It also causes concerns related to health and quality of life (Felgueiras & Smitkova, 2018). Thermal electric power generation produces large quantities of waste heat. Fossil fuel combustion converts only 42% to electricity and the remaining 58% waste away in the environment (Pepper, Gerba, & Brusseau, 1996). Veziroglu, Gurkan and Padki (1989), points out evidence that rising mean temperature of the Earth and concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) is mainly due to the combustion of fossil fuels. The temperature of the Earth rises due to CO2 absorbing the long-wavelength radiation. This could lead to catastrophic changes in the global climate. Current human activities add about 7-9 gigaton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Eighty percent of this is from burning fossil fuels and 60% of burned fossil fuels are for electricity generation. Carbon dioxide (70%), Methane (23%) and Nitrous Oxide (7%) are the greenhouse gases released by humans that leads to global warming. Two thirds of nitrous oxide are also from burning fossil fuels for electrical power generation (Pepper, Gerba, & Brusseau, 2011).
To cap it off, Pepper, Gerba, & Brusseau (2011) also cites a long term projection of the effect of fossil fuel burning on atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, surface temperature, and sea level in Figure 1.
Figure 1 shows that carbon dioxide emissions will decrease after 100 years but its effect will continue to last for thousands of years.
“Environmental concerns are growing and interest in environmental issues is increasing and the idea of generating electricity with less pollution is becoming more and more attractive”, Zahedi (2006) observes. Anand et al (2009) further states that with the increase of demand in greener methods, solar energy steals the spotlight of global energy activities. Our planet receives 160,000 TW solar energy which is far more than what we demand, 16TW.
There is a crying need to develop solar energy in homes and small business due to load management for electricity. It is within our grasp to harness the sun’s energy, especially for developing countries. There are various reasons for the need for solar energy: general industrial and economic growth, the aspiration for improved living standard and cutting cost of electricity. The present power generation system must be diversified to reduce the pressure on natural gas and dependency on petroleum fuel. At the same time, home-grown energy resources have to be investigated and established. It may be stated that concern for surroundings is a current worldwide matter and conventional energy give rises to greenhouse gases with undesirable effects on climate and health. Solar Photovoltaic systems were discovered in 1954 after a lot of research was being conducted regarding photoelectric technologies and starting to utilize the energy of the sun for other purposes. Photovoltaic systems are designed to distribute usable solar power using photovoltaic. Now, solar photovoltaic has been available for many years and it has been confirmed to consistently function well. Solar photovoltaic systems have improved immeasurably over time, like most other technology. It has become a more viable option for homes and gaining more efficiency. Each cell of solar photovoltaic had a 7 per cent efficiency rate when it was first invented. Currently, most cells have an efficiency rate of around 30 per cent (Markvart et al., 2016). But, some cells are being developed with the above 45 per cent efficiency rate. That is truly a testament to technology and an amazing transformation.
It can be difficult to understand photovoltaic systems, particularly when you are considering using them to heat and power your home. There is a lengthy list of items to think about, but the first step is to know the basic technology behind the panels.
Figure 2 shows how solar panels work as explained by Markvart et al. (2016):
- Solar panels comprise solar cells that harness energy from the sun.
- An inverter is used to convert this energy once it is trapped so that it can be used to power and heat things within the home.
- The sunlight dislodges and liberates electrons the cells after striking the material, which then moves to generate a direct electrical current.
Optionally it can include solar concentrators, energy management software, solar tracker, battery system and charger. Solar photovoltaic can help to save a lot of money even though it may not be able to produce enough energy to meet 100 per cent of the needs within a home.
However, the establishment of solar photovoltaic systems is a highly significant option to power and heat homes as it will ensure the following: (1) significantly lower the electric expense over time. (2) It is good for the environment as it replaces the conventional method of energy production. (3) the systems operate silently and with minimal movement. (4) PV systems are very safe when installed properly and do not require any combustible fuel (Samparo & González, 2017. 5). Application of solar PV systems exhibits a versatility perfect for the needs of powering and heating things within homes.
The projection for solar photovoltaic systems should ideally be made considering the growth of energy users at homes. Energy consumption in our country is increasing at a rate of 2 per cent annually. The energy future trends forecast that the required amount of energy will be doubled by 2025. Currently, all the countries across the world believe that solar energy is the best alternative solution rather than using conventional types of energy (Samparo & González, 2017). One way to minimize energy use, as well as energy bills, is to use the available resources efficiently and effectively. Therefore, the solar photovoltaic system is considered as one of the most significant types of solar energy for the advantage, which is the availability, carbon-free and clean.
Man is now veering away from exhaustible energy sources to explore sustainable alternatives. Fuel of solar photovoltaic energy is available at no-cost. These energy systems can easily be installed and generate pollution-free electricity. PV prices continue to drop which makes it accessible to apply to residential houses (Zahedi, 2006). Even though solar photovoltaic systems generate only 7 per cent of the home‘s annual energy, they significantly reduce the energy bill, offset carbon production and means more saving over time. By installing solar PV systems within a home will save almost 500 dollars on energy per year. The future of PV as a source of energy is promising. From where it is now, this PV technology will continue to be improved to one day, hopefully, fully replace exhaustible energy sources and reach out to places that don’t have access to electricity.
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