In today’s world where energy resources are scarce. However, with increased demand, we need an unlimited source. The Sun is the most prominent energy source and harnessing it will require a solar plant. But. what is solar power plant?- It is a facility designed to harness solar radiation, comprising light, heat, and ultraviolet radiation, and convert it into electricity suitable for distribution to homes and industries.
The electricity production process in a solar plant is entirely ecological, free from the generation of pollutants harmful to the environment. Moreover, solar electricity is one of the most green renewable assets.
Given those advantages over power derived from fossil fuels or non-renewable sources, solar power plants play an important role in shaping a new, sustainable, and environmentally friendly long-term manufacturing model.
What is Solar Power Plant’s Function: How Does it Work?
A solar panel has an array of solar modules and each of them has several hundreds or thousands of individual diodes- PV cells. These cells convert light directly into electrical energy via a process known as “photovoltaics”.
When you expose these cells to direct sunlight, these cells generate a small voltage across their terminals. This potential difference causes electrons in one side of the circuit to flow towards another part where they can function. The amount of charge that flows depends on how much light strikes the module. What is solar power plant’s function when such a phenomenon happens?
Electron Dynamics- The Role in Plays in Solar Power Plant
As more photons strike the module, more charges move around inside the diode. This produces higher currents. But there are only a few electrons available for movement which it will use up.
At this point, there is no further electron movement because of the depletion of the number of electrons. As long as enough sunlight falls upon the module, new electrons continue to appear on its surface. Eventually, when the supply of electrons runs out, the output stops increasing.
Two factors influence the total production of energy over time of what is solar power plants:
- How much sunlight falls on the module during any given period
- How efficiently the module uses the incoming light.
You can understand the first factor if you have seen a sunny day with clouds overhead. For the second part, you can measure efficiency in terms of “power conversion efficiency” (PCE) measures the percentage of incident sunlight converted to usable electrical energy.
However, the energy generation in solar power plants differs depending on the technology it uses. Let’s see what is solar power plant and their types.
2 Types of Solar Power Plant
There are two key technologies when it comes to using solar power to generate energy:
- Photovoltaic Solar Technology
- Solar Thermal Technology
The photovoltaic technology directly converts the sunlight into electricity. The photovoltaic options can power up more than hundreds of acres of land. They can produce electricity for power grids. So, let’s see what the two do in detail.
Photovoltaic Solar Technology
Photovoltaic power plants or PV convert sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic cells. These cells have silicon alloys. You also get these panels in different forms. Some of the popular forms are crystalline solar panels and thin-film solar panels.
PV is popular as it allows us to store solar energy in batteries. You can also feed it into the national grid. The PV plant needs inverters for transforming the power from DC to AC. So manufacturers need the appropriate material for the energy to “travel” through a channel.
So, what is solar power plant’s material that helps it to transform electricity?
How Photovoltaic Works
It would need a semiconductor material and PV panels usually have them. When the photons of the sunlight hit such materials, it generates free electrons.
The free electrons flow through the material to generate direct electrical current. This process is the “photoelectric effect”. It converts the DC into AC using an inverter and finally feeds it to the grid.
The PV panels are different from the solar thermal pants. They use photo effects. However, thermal plants use liquid heat ways. So, let’s see what a solar thermal power plant is.
Solar Thermal Power Plant
Solar thermal power plants collect sunlight in a way that helps to generate electricity. There are three types- linear, solar dish power plant and parabolic trough solar thermal. The most common one is the linear option and it has parallel rows. It also has unique functions. Let’s see how solar power plant works.
How Solar Thermal Plant Works
The solar thermal power plant produces electricity from sunlight. It operates below 100 °C temperature. Both residential and commercial buildings can avail of these installations. The heat it generates has various types of industrial uses.
A solar thermal plant can generate electricity by using mirrors or lenses. It does so by concentrating the sunlight on these lenses onto a receiver which has a fluid-filled pipe. The concentrated sunlight heats the fluid. This produces a steam that drives the turbine connected to a generator. It is this process that converts solar energy into electrical power.
All these functions might make you wonder what is solar power plant’s advantages. So, here are a few benefits of a solar power plant that will make you want to invest in them.
Advantages of Solar Power Plant
Here are some lesser-known advantages of solar energy plants:
- Good for the Environment: Solar power is one of the safest and greenest styles of renewable strength. It does not have any destructive outcomes on the surroundings.
- Cost: The cost of energy production is negligible and it does not need any outside supply. All you need is the investment to set up a solar power plant and you can even generate returns from it.
- No Energy Loss: There is no loss of energy in its distribution. This keeps the performance at its peak.
- Easy Installation: You can set up a power plant anywhere. That is the flexibility of a solar power system that makes it easy to generate electricity even in remote areas.
- No Blackouts: Since the electricity comes from solar power, an inexhaustible energy source, there is an abundant source of energy. Also, in case of voltage dips, you have a backup power source.
- Better Investment: Solar energy production is more during the day and thus leads to reduced electricity prices. Since it is a one-time investment, you can expect free power for life. It is the most eco-friendly source for power production.
The scope of solar energy in India is huge. Just like it helps in providing energy for major functions across industries, it is also a lucrative investment opportunity. In many ways, the SUN is the FUTURE.
FAQs: What is Solar Power Plant: How It Works, Types and Importance
How much land required for 1mw solar power plants?
Approximately 4 acres of land is typically required for a 1 MW solar power plant, considering the need for spacing between solar panels and accounting for factors like access roads.
How to set up solar power plants?
To set up solar power plants, you need to conduct site assessments, secure permits, and install solar panels and a grid connection. You have to ensure optimal proper maintenance for optimal performance.
How much does it cost to build solar power plants?
It costs around Rs 4 – 5 crores on an average to build a solar power plant.
Which element is used in solar cells?
Solar cells primarily use silicon as the key element. Silicon’s semiconductor properties enable the conversion of sunlight into electricity in photovoltaic cells.
Now you understand “what is solar power plant” is and why you need to invest in one. Not only does it help to generate renewable energy that is helpful for the environment but also helps you to make eco-conscious financial decisions.
By investing in renewable energy projects you can grow your finances while aiding in the “Green Revolution”. Follow Sustvest to learn how to invest in renewable energy projects at zero upfront cost.
Founder of Sustvest
Hardik completed his B.Tech from BITS Pilani. Keeping the current global scenario, the growth of renewable energy in mind, and people looking for investment opportunities in mind he founded SustVest ( formerly, Solar Grid X ) in 2018. This venture led him to achieve the ‘Emerging Fintech Talent of the Year in MENA region ‘ in October 2019.