On average, every square meter of Earth’s surface receives over 165 watts of solar energy. This means that, even with all the solar panels on the planet, we could still generate enough electricity to light up the entire planet.
Unfortunately, the energy that the sun sends out is not as powerful as the heat it produces. This means that we can’t use it to generate electricity or heat our homes.
How efficient are solar cells?
The law of conservation of energy explains that energy can’t be created or turned into something else. It means that a solar cell can’t produce more electricity than it receives.
A single-transition silicon cell can achieve a maximum efficiency of around 30%. This is because, in order to capture the most of the light, it has to use the most energy-efficient part of the solar cell.
Unfortunately, some of the photons hitting a solar cell do not have the energy to knock out electrons, which leads to the wasted energy. The best way to achieve this is by using multiple compounds.
Four factors that affect solar electricity production
Although solar panels can provide energy to the full sun, they will not produce as much power if they are placed on the roof, which is usually not sunny.
Like the seasons, solar energy production can vary depending on the weather. While a cold day can affect solar energy production, it’s important to remember that these effects are only temporary.
Ideally, solar panels should have a slope that’s at the same angle as the latitude when they’re installed. This ensures that their efficiency will be maximized.
Azimuth is the angle at which the sunlight hits the Earth’s surface. It’s the easiest way to determine the solar azimuth angle.
Although residential solar panels can reach a maximum efficiency of 15 percent, they won’t get much better over time. This is because the various factors that affect their efficiency will all have a negative effect on their real world performance.
How much energy can we get with solar panels?
Raw solar energy, the energy produced by the sun, reaches every square meter of the earth. This is enough to illuminate the entire planet.
Depending on the time of day and the orientation of the planet, we may get around 100 to 250 watts per square meter at most northern latitudes.
With a yearly production of around 700 to 2,500 kilowatts, it would take us about 700 to 2,500 square meters to generate the same amount of electricity.
Unfortunately, solar cells only produce 15 percent efficiency, which means they can only capture a fraction of the theoretical energy that’s available. As a result, solar panels are bigger than they should be.