Both solar and fossil fuels have good and bad sides. The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. This leads to an increase in extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the destruction of ecosystems.On the other hand, renewable energy cannot be used at every moment.
Is renewable energy always available ?
Solar energy systems can lead to long-term cost savings for individuals, as they no longer have to rely on fluctuating electricity prices set by centralized utility providers.
Investing in solar power can also stimulate economic growth and create job opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
By generating their own electricity through solar panels, individuals can become more self-sufficient and reduce their monthly utility bills.
Solar energy investments can provide a solid return on investment over time, especially with the availability of government incentives and tax credits for adopting renewable energy solutions.
A scenario is also possible: fossil energy could not be available because its production depends on many strange factors and undesirable influences. So the price of oil and gas on the market varies. But if we provide energetic independence, we are on horseback.
Cost od renewable
Last year (2023), a significant drop in the price of solar panels was recorded. The prices of inventory and other equipment were flat or saw a significant drop. The current index price for solar panels is $0.5/W, with a tendency to further decrease. Also, many states offer subsidies for investing in solar energy in order to motivate citizens to invest their money in energy. However, there is a problem here with excessive production in the midday hours in the summer months, which leads to price imbalances and disruption of the energy network. There is a solution. And those are hybrid systems. Hybrid systems are similar to on-grid systems but have a battery and charge controllers. If you go into solar, it would be a good idea to invest in a large-capacity battery. So that the cheap electricity produced by solar in the midday hours is accumulated in batteries, we can use it at night or when it is suitable for us instead of selling that electricity to the distributor at miserable prices.
Renewable is slowly climbing on the throne
Regarding energy consumption (if we exclude industry), the most important sources of energy are:
Fossil fuel is used the most in these segments: oil, coal, and natural gas. Regarding the production of electricity through solar panels for households, I have already written a lot about it.
In the case of car transport, the inevitable solution is electric vehicles. However, truck transport will still require oil due to the power needed by the engine to transport heavy loads. The solution is biodiesel, as well as for agriculture in the case of high-powered tractors. Electric vehicles have batteries with capacities ranging from 45 kWh to 82 kWh, depending on the category. Vehicles with a larger battery capacity have a longer range.
We can charge electric vehicles at home or in public. Charging at home is the most cost-effective method. Due to the absence of intermediaries, you will consistently receive the most affordable rate accessible to residential clients.
Charging the electric vehicle directly from the solar panels (with DC current) is efficient. We can also charge the AC, but only if we draw electricity from the network. If we are thinking of making a solar car port that would be used to charge the battery of our electric vehicle, we must bear in mind that the charging capacity is small (less than 4 kW or 10 solar panels in full capacity), which is insufficient. Charging an electric vehicle battery with low output power (less than 3 kW) can be dangerous. Charging at noon with more solar panels is much better!
Agricultural land cultivation requires powerful machines—tractors—for plowing the land. In fact, the torque of the tractor is very important. Tractors with high power are used for cultivating large areas, and high-powered electric motors would quickly wear out. However, there are electric tractors with less power that can already replace small and medium tractors (engine power of 30 kW). A typical example is SOLETRIC
Analytical experiment for householders (made with SPAC)
Let’s make it more interesting and do two experiments. In the first case, we have a house with no electric power, so we need off-grid equipment for electricity in comparison to gasoline. Solar power system for consumers such as lighting, TV, refrigerator, water pump, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, hair dryer, computer, microwave oven, water heater, 2.5 hours a day, and other small household appliances. The system can provide up to 4 days of autonomy for the above-mentioned consumers without a day of the sun, considering the capacity of the batteries located in the system.
Let’s take, for example, an average cottage without electricity in the area of the city of Chicago (latitude 41.83 deg), with a roof of the house with a slope of 30 degrees on which we mount 10 solar panels with power 400 W. After calculation in the SPAC application, we have these results. Monthly production:
Yearly, it is 4409 kWh. For this configuration, we need four 200Ah batteries, MPPT charge controlers, and a pure sine inverter. The cost of this investment is 7496 $, and if we include that for rails, wires, clamps, and other fastening equipment for 20%, we will get 9000 $.
|Qcell 400 W
|PoewQueen 200 Ah
|pure sine invertor VOLFVERT
Now, we have to achieve 4409 kWh with gasoline aggregate. The investment in a gasoline generator is relatively small. Fuell consumption for 4409 kWh is 904 lit. The most important item is the price of gasoline, which is now fluctuating. In the USA, it is $0.9, and in Europe, it is $1.6. Initial investments are large for solar. But there is no more investment there. This means that investment prices will equalize in the U.S. in 11 years and in Europe in 6 years. After that, solar is pure profit.
Calculation for electric car (made with SPAC)
Charging electric vehicles via solar panels is possible but technically demanding. First, we need more well-placed panels to quickly charge the car’s battery. It would be ideal to charge the battery with DC current directly via the inverter. There is also a variant of charging stationary batteries with a higher capacity than ours in the car so that we can charge the car’s battery at night, but that is more complicated. We will take as an example the average electric car, the Renault ZOE, with a battery capacity of 52 kWh. Similar configuration of solar panels and inverter as the previous case, but without batteries. The table shows the monthly number of car battery charges..
The price of fossil fuels and lithium is unpredictable. The price of solar panels is falling. It is impossible to answer with certainty whether it is better to invest in aggregates from fossil fuels or solar. On the other hand, we have a trend toward reducing pollution and decarbonization, which will force many countries to subsidize investment in clean energy. Let’s keep in mind that fossil fuels are (nevertheless) unavoidable in many situations