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This paper is intended to address new green building materials in California. It speaks, in particular, about the solar panel. A research is being undertaken to understand whether the solar panel is green or renewable. Furthermore, the properties of the products, as well as the production process, are also discussed accordingly. In addition, some of the existing uses of the selected green building material are covered by the paper. In addition, certain possible practical applications of the solar panel are also explored. Various graphics are integrated into the work to better explain the solar panel. This material, solar panel absorbs the sunlight as the energy source for generating either heat or electricity.
The Reason Solar Panel is Green
The solar panel is considered one of the green building product or material because it absorbs the sunlight as an energy source for generating either heat or electricity. Typically, a photovoltaic (PV) nodule is a connecting assembly is about 6x10 solar cells (Chen, 2015). It constitutes the array of the photovoltaic system that helps in generating and supplying electricity in both residential and commercial applications. The DC output power is used to rate each of the modules under the (STC) standard test conditions (Mandal & Singh, 2017). Normally, the DC output power ranges from about one hundred to three hundred and sixty-five watts (W).
Figure 1: Solar Panels (Source: Johnston, 2010).
The module efficiency helps in determining the solar panel area given the same rate of output. For example, a 230 Watt model with 8% efficiency produces an area of 16% efficient module of 230 Watts. In the market, the solar modules that exceed the 22% of efficiency are very few (Johnston, 2010). A single module of solar can be used in the production of only a limited quantity of power. For this reason, most of the installations are made of several modules. The electricity or the heat that the solar panel produces do not pollute environment hence making it widely acceptable (Zakharchenko, 2004). California including other parts of the world is in need of such green product.
The process of manufacturing solar panels involves stringing and placing its cells between EVA sheets (Chen, 2015). Lamination is the next step in the process of solar panel manufacturing. The solar cells are then wired before they are arrayed after placing the contacts of electricity between them. In the lamination process, these solar cells are sealed in ethylene vinyl acetate. Subsequently, a frame sealed with silicon glue is used to hold the cells. This frame is also made of glass on the front and the Mylar of the backside. Worth noting, lamination is an essential step in the manufacturing process of a solar panel (Zakharchenko, 2004). Finally, aluminum frames are used to support the structure. At this point, the material is a ready product of the PV module.
Figure 2: The Process of Manufacturing Solar Panels (Source: Chen, 2015)
A material that is light sensitive is required in the photovoltaic effect. In reality, there are various photovoltaic properties of different materials. In the past (1880) for example, the use of gold-coated selenium resulted in the construction of a solar panel with an efficiency of 1%. Currently, silicon is widely used in the solar cells (Mandal & Singh, 2017). This material has a high rate of efficiency thus helps in boosting the quantity of energy that the cell releases. For this reason, the photovoltaic-capable material’s purity is of utmost importance. The metallurgical grade silicon should be able to produce trichloro-silane gas when exposed to copper and hydrochloric acid (Johnston, 2010). Afterward, the gas is reduced using hydrogen, which in turn changed to molten silicon after heating. In this state, this silicon material must have a purity level of about 99.999999%.
Current Applications of Solar Panel
Currently, the solar panels have various areas of applications. Some of these areas include the concentration of the solar power (CSP), photovoltaics, and solar thermal energy. In CSP, electricity is produced by the use of lenses or mirrors for the efficient concentration of the sun’s energy (Zakharchenko, 2004). The CSP's four principle technologies include the central receivers, parabolic troughs, the concentrating photovoltaic systems (CPV), as well as the dish-Stirling. Solar cells are also employed in the photovoltaics for the conversion of the sun’s energy to electricity (Johnston, 2010). Direct current electricity is produced by the solar cells from the sun's rays, which in turn can be used to charge batteries and in power equipment.
Figure 3: Solar Panel Conversion of Energy Efficiencies since 1976 (Source: Mandal & Singh, 2017)
Future Potential Use
Recently, various researchers have been aiming to increase the rate of efficiency of the solar arrays and the photovoltaic cells. Even though several strides have been made since 1880 when the first solar panel was built, the average efficiencies are still lower than 40%, with some cells reportedly topping about 10% efficiency (Chen, 2015). There must be a realization of serious improvements in the efficiency if the solar power is to take off. Overall, the use of solar panel should be encouraged since it is environment-friendly.
Chen, S. (2015). Solar panel shade won’t cool Earth. Science. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad7381
Johnston, D. (2010). Functional requirements for component films in a solar thin-film photovoltaic/thermal panel. Solar Energy, 84(3), 384-389. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2009.12.001
Mandal, S., & Singh, D. (2017). Real-Time Data Acquisition of Solar Panel Using Arduino and Further Recording Voltage of the Solar Panel. International Journal of Instrumentation and Control Systems, 7(3), 15-25. http://dx.doi.org/10.5121/ijics.2017.7303
Zakharchenko, R. (2004). Photovoltaic solar panel for a hybrid PV/thermal system. Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 82(1-2), 253-261. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.solmat.2004.01.022
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