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Solar energy – useful information
Solar energy is the basic source of renewable energy, i.e. one that we do not have to worry about exhausting. As solar energy is one of the most common, cleanest and natural energy sources, it is considered a very promising source. Also because of the economic benefits that are possible from obtaining solar energy.
In recent years, there has been a progressive trend in the use of solar energy by various institutions and households in Poland. We do not have to look far for examples of using solar energy – just pay attention to the roofs of houses in the immediate vicinity. Certainly we will find at least one collector catching solar energy. Increasingly, we also see photovoltaics that power road signs, notice boards and parking meters with solar energy. In Poland, individual use of solar energy is the most popular. Currently, there is one solar farm in the country and it is a photovoltaic farm in Wierzchosławice near Tarnów.
What is solar energy, solar collector or photovoltaics? What are the possibilities of using solar energy in Poland? For what purpose can we obtain solar energy and through what systems? You will find answers to these and many other questions in the article below.
Solar energy in Poland
The amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth in the form of solar radiation is measured by determining the intensity of solar radiation. In Poland, this value fluctuates between about 900 and 1200 kWh / m2. Such values of solar energy are also similar in countries such as Germany or northern France, but greater than in the Scandinavian countries, where solar energy is already obtained on a large scale.
Solar energy allows you to save up to 70% of the costs of heating hot water throughout the year, and in winter, with central heating, up to 60% of the costs of traditional energy. In addition, by using solar energy, we become independent from external suppliers and protect ourselves against fluctuations and increases in the prices of other energy carriers. It is also possible to save on electricity bills by using solar energy to generate electricity.
What about solar energy when it’s cloudy?
As the name suggests, obtaining solar energy is possible only thanks to solar radiation. However, attention should be paid to the fact that solar radiation reaches the earth not only when there is a cloudless sky. Solar energy can be converted continuously throughout the year, and the main difference between a sunny day and a cloudy day is the amount of energy obtained. When the sun is hiding behind the clouds, the efficiency of solar-generating installations decreases, but the collector still produces less heat and electricity.
How can we use solar energy
Solar energy can be used to obtain both heat energy and electricity. However, it should be remembered that if we want to convert solar energy into heat, we need a different installation than in the case of converting solar energy into electricity. Many people interested in solar energy are familiar with terms such as solar collectors, solar panels or photovoltaics. But are we aware of the difference between these terms?
If we are interested in converting solar energy into thermal energy, we must use solar collectors , also known as solar panels. The panels capture solar energy and convert it directly into heat. Depending on numerous conditions, the efficiency of solar energy conversion can reach up to 90%. Solar collectors can be used to convert solar energy into:
- heating water in residential buildings;
- water heating in swimming pools;
- water heating in industrial buildings;
- heating water in enterprises – hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools;
Support in heating buildings and other rooms (wall and floor heating).
The most common solar panels on the market are flat and tubular collectors. Converting solar energy through flat panels is an easier and cheaper solution. Tubular collectors are a newer generation of panels, which makes it more expensive, but also more effective. A properly performed installation of solar energy panels can cover up to 75% of the annual heat energy demand. In addition, an important aspect is environmental friendliness – solar collectors do not emit dangerous gases or pollutants, they are quiet and safe for the environment.
If we are interested in converting solar energy into electricity, we must install photovoltaic (PV) panels, or photovoltaics . Photovoltaics capture solar energy and convert it into electricity in a cell based on silicon. Photovoltaics are connected in parallel or in series to obtain higher voltage. We can use photovoltaics to convert solar energy into:
- road signaling;
- emergency power systems;
- traffic lights;
- small trade machines;
- providing electricity in households;
- and other.
This solar energy installation is connected to the local power grid. The energy produced by photovoltaics is therefore sent through the grid and collected by the apartment building for free when it is needed. The more electricity from photovoltaic electricity is used for self-consumption, the more profitable it is for the owner to use solar energy. Obtaining electricity by converting solar energy is environmentally friendly – photovoltaics do not emit carbon dioxide, noise or other pollutants.
What is the price of obtaining solar energy
Solar power installations are still relatively expensive, even though the prices of solar power systems have fallen by as much as 99% compared to 1976. Installation prices vary depending on the needs, the solar energy system used, the size of a residential building or apartment. Smaller buildings and rooms need less solar energy, fewer panels and therefore cheaper systems. The installation price ranges from approximately PLN 15,000 to PLN 30,000. The operating costs are low and the investment is intended to pay off as soon as possible. However, please note that each individual case is different, so prices are always approximate.
Subsidies and subsidies for solar energy
Since the use of solar energy is environmentally friendly, the European Union aims to promote this type of energy generation. Therefore, there are many possibilities to subsidize the purchase of solar panels. Co-financing for solar energy amounts to 45% gross of a bank loan, but cannot exceed PLN 2,500 per 1 m2 of the total collector area. An important condition for receiving such funding for solar energy is the purchase of collectors with a documented certificate. Such co-financing may be granted to individuals and housing communities. However, it should be remembered that there are many options for co-financing the acquisition of solar energy and it is worth considering each individual case separately.
Ecology is an important aspect of renewable energy sources. Solar energy is a clean alternative to sources such as oil, natural gas or coal, and solar power plants are an alternative to nuclear power plants. The conversion of solar energy is safe for both the environment and its users. Solar collectors do not emit any sounds during operation and do not emit dangerous gases into the atmosphere and do not pollute the environment.