Solar electricity consumption is on the way up. Many utilities include solar as part of their generation plans. This is solar on a large scale. But what about harvesting the power of the sun to power your business? There is a method that can work for you and save money on your electrical bills, especially here in the southwest where sunshine is plentiful.
Solar Panels and Solar Farms
A solar panel is nothing more than a large group of solar cells made of silicon. The cells are networked into a panel, each gathering a small amount of energy from sunlight. Multiple panels are required to generate an appreciable amount of electricity which is why solar farm arrays are so large.
A solar farm is an installation of multiple solar panels, generally on small towers covering an area of ground. Unlike the solar panels on roofs, these panels can be placed away from shade and moved so they are at the optimum angle to harvest solar rays throughout the day and throughout the seasons.
From Farm to Grid
Electricity from solar panels, either from solar farms or panels on your home or building, is not saved to batteries; this isn’t feasible with current technology. Instead, once the energy is gathered on the solar panel it is sent via an inverter to the local electrical grid where it is bought by the electric utility company.
The electricity your business uses is still from the grid just like always. But the amount you receive for the power from the solar farm will hopefully offset some, or all, of your electric bill.
Optimizing Energy Usage
Why go through this seemingly circular route? Because the energy produced by the solar farm may not be needed at the very time it is produced. If it isn’t stored in a battery or sent to the grid it would be wasted. If your business only requires electricity from 9 AM to 5 PM, any solar energy outside of those hours needs to go elsewhere to be used.
Putting aside the energy and resources required for manufacture of solar panel arrays, the energy harvested from the sun produces very little impact on the atmosphere. Currently solar energy makes up about 0.1% of total electric generation in the United States. So why don’t we do more?
Creating more solar energy requires vast arrays of panels and large amounts of land. In addition, many regions are not suitable for solar energy production because sunlight is limited by cloud cover, length of daylight, and other environmental factors. But on a small scale, like a solar farm to provide electricity for your business, it is much more workable.
If you have the land and are looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint or just save a few bucks on the bills, a solar farm is one way of doing both. Sun is the ultimate in renewable energy. Once the panels are in place you need do nothing but maintain them. Your upfront investment in the solar farm should pay you back.