What is Solar Power? A Simple Example How Does Solar Work? Where do we use Solar Power? What is Photovoltaic Power? What are the Components of a Solar Farm? Where are Agawam’s Solar Farms? What are the Pros & Cons, Benefits?
We all have seen calculators with solar cells that don’t need batteries. As long as there's enough light, they seem to work forever. You may also have seen larger solar panels on emergency road signs and in parking lots to power the lights. That is Photovoltaic Energy at work using Photovoltaic Panels or PV.
We all have seen the Hubble Space Telescope and the Solar Panels that power the Satellite. This is Photovoltaic Energy at work using large Photovoltaic Panels.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Photovoltaic Energy is the direct conversion of light into electricity at the atomic level. PV Panels are made of mostly Silicon, one of the Earth’s most common elements. These PV Panels absorb photons of light and then release electrons, called free electrons. These free electrons are collected and turned into electricity.
A number of solar cells electrically connected and mounted in a frame is called a Photovoltaic Module. When you connect multiple Modules together, you form an Array. The larger the Array, the more power is generated. A series of Arrays is generally known as a Solar Farm. Most PV Arrays are designed to create electricity at a certain voltage, typically 12 Volts DC.
Electricity generated by the Array is sent to the Inverter as Direct Current (DC). The Inverter’s job is to convert the DC power to Alternating Current (AC), which is what powers the “Grid”. The Grid is a system of equipment that supplies electricity from a source to the consumer. This equipment can be power plants, sub stations, transmission lines, etc.
The Utility Meter is a measuring device that measures how much electricity is being generated by the Solar Farm and sent to the Grid. This is measured as Megawatts (mW) which equates to 1 million watts. Agawam has 2 Solar Farms scheduled to go “On-Line” in early 2013. These 2 Solar Farms will generate 1.5 Megawatts each.
Agawam’s 2 Solar Farms are located on Shoemaker Lane adjacent to Rte 57, and on Main St. behind Mushy’s. The Shoemaker Lane site will result in an approximate savings of $40K - $50K per year in Energy Credits applied to Agawam’s Electric Bill. The Main St site will result in about the same cost savings applied to HP Hood’s Electric Bill.
Shoemaker Lane Farm (As seen from Rte 57) Main Street Farm (As seen from Mushy’s)
Energy Credits are a calculation of how much Electricity is generated then sold to the Grid by our Solar Farms. We then get a percentage of these credits applied to Agawam’s Electric Bill. These Energy Credits are estimated to be between $40K and $50K per year, or approximately $1M+ over the next 25 years.
Provides Local Employment • Built on un-useable land • Over the life of the Farm, removes the equivalent of: • 250 tons of NOX • 400 tons of SOX • 60,000 tons of CO2 • Savings of the following Resources over the life of the Farm: • 100,000 barrels of Oil • 32,000 tons of Coal • 1.5B cubic feet of Natural Gas • No Pollution from the Farm • Solar is 100% Renewable • No Noise from the Farm • Little to no Maintenance
Solar Panels tend to be very expensive initially • Solar Power is reduced during cloudy days or during storms • No Solar Power at night • No Storage Capacity • PV Cells contain small amounts of exotic materials that need to be disposed of properly
By 2020 global solar output is estimated to exceed 275 Terawatt hours, which would equate to 30% of Africa's energy needs or 1% of global demand. This would replace the output of 75 new coal fired power stations. The global solar infrastructure would have an investment value of $75 billion USD a year. By 2040 global solar output could be more than 9000 Terawatt hours, or 26% of the expected global demand. **Report European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and Greenpeace, 2004
More information can be found on The Agawam Energy Commission ‘s Web Site: http://www.agawam.ma.us/content/80/182/2263/1660/default.aspx