How is Solar Energy cost effective, energy efficient and environment friendly?

How is Solar Energy cost effective, energy efficient and environment friendly?

Solar Impulse is claimed to be the first aircraft to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, propelled solely by the sun's energy. Examine the role solar energy can play in reducing the cost and improving the environment. Also throw some light on the built of Solar Impulse.

Solar energy is a cost effective, energy efficient means of power generation. It has many benefits from the economic and environmental viewpoint.

Cost Savings

• Solar energy is a form of modular technology in which few to many panels can be installed at very little cost
• For every new kilowatt of solar energy installed, there are large electricity savings
• Energy bill can be completely reduced if there is a big enough installation
• Clean energy from the sun is also free
• Solar energy pays larger dividends with the passage of time
• Increasing utility rates will have no impact on cost of solar energy
• Freedom from changing electricity prices and rising cost of fossil fuels
• Carbon emission taxes will be factored into the price of fossil fuels thereby impacting cost effectiveness of solar energy
• Solar power technologies are evolving at a rapid rate; as technology advances, it will increase the cost efficiency of solar energy

Improving the Environment

• Solar power is an alternative/renewable/clean energy which helps to lower GHG emissions and global warming. This reduces dependence on fossil fuel reserves and ensures their conservation
• Solar power systems offset close to 30 tonnes of Carbon dioxide in a span of 30 years which is the equivalent of planting 2,400 trees or cutting down on driving a distance of 60,000 miles or burning 16 tonnes of coal
• Climate change can be mitigated or reversed through the use of solar energy
• Coal mining causes loss of vegetation on a vast scale which can be prevented with solar energy
• Solar energy bypasses nuclear as the latter generate radioactive waste which may be dangerous
• Solar energy reduces the need for fossil fuel power plants
• Solar power also reduces need for using batteries; solar cells can provide power even in the remote regions

About Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse aircraft is the first solar powered flight in the world. It has broken many records including high profile transit of US in 2013. Solar Impulse 2 has gone further and circled the world.

• Solar Impulse 2 possesses a wingspan of 72m
• Its wingspan is wider than a 747-81 jumbo jet
• It weighs only 2.3 tonnes (as much as an average car). The lightweight build of this aircraft influences the ease with which it moves
• More than 17,000 solar cells line the top of the wings
• Energy dense lithium ion batteries are used for sustaining this
• Single seater revolutionary aircraft is made of carbon fibre
• 17,000 solar cells built into the wings provide renewable energy to 4 electric motors (17.5 CV each)

Solar cells provide recharging for lithium batteries with a weight of 633 kg/2077 lbs enabling the aircraft to have the capacity for nocturnal flight and have unlimited autonomy of movement

Facts and Stats

Regarding Solar Impulse:

• Battery energy density: 4X260 Wh/kg
• Solar Cells Thickness: 135 micron
• Solar Cells > 17,000 collecting 340kWh of solar energy every single day and representing 269.5 m2
• Cockpit Size: 3.8 m3
• Energy collected by solar cells stored in lithium polymer batteries with optimised energy density of 260 Wh/kg
• Batteries are insulated through high density foam and mounted in 4 engine nacelles with a system that adjusts charging thresholds and temperature
• Total mass equals 633 kg or more than 1/4th of the all up weight of the aircraft
• Average power in a day: varies from small motorbike (15 hp)with a maximum power of 70 hp (4 17.5 hp engines)
• Solar Impulse can fly at the same speed as a car varying between 36 to 140 km/h or 20-77Kts

About Solar Energy

• Duetsche Bank has forecasted that as per current fossil fuel prices, solar energy will be producing power as cheaply and affordably as gas in 2/3rd of the world prior to 2020

• BBC: price of solar electric panels fell by as much as 70% in recent times and costs are expected to halve during this decade.
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