Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Research Paper

Salam everyone. Actually this is my first research paper that I have made during Spring Semester 2011 at International Education Center (INTEC), Universiti Teknologi Mara Kampus Seksyen 17. Generally, it was about my research on solar system. I wanted to do so because of I wanted to enhance my knowledges about solar. Since I was 17, after SPM, I worked in Shah Alam at an solar energy company. I learnt a lot from the work and now I want to share with you all a little bit information about solar. Hopefully, you enjoy reading my research.. Thank you

~~Solar Energy is Applicable for the Future~~

Can you imagine one day, when you wake up from sleep, you walk to switch on the lamp but there is no electricity. Then, when you are walking out of your home to take the car for breakfast, you noticed your electricity bill in front of your door. You are very shocked to see the notice “The electricity service at your home has been cut because of very high usage.” You feel very frustrated and make your way to the car. When you start the car engine, it does not work because there is no fuel. Life without electricity and natural resources like fossil fuel is nothing and meaningless. To avoid such problem from happening, we should find another source and use them in the proper and right ways. If the resource is used in a sustainable fashion, the energy is consumed at a rate comparable to that at which energy is being replenished. Renewable energy is thus inexhaustible as opposed to conventional sources of energy which have a limited lifespan. One way to encourage extensive use of renewables is to provide greater public understanding of energy systems and energy supply as well as the benefits of renewable resources especially its long term environmental benefits. One example of renewable energy is solar energy. There are three aspects that will be discussed in this research paper, which are the viability of solar energy compared to natural resources from the earth, the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy and the implementation of solar energy in real life.

Nowadays, the world is blessed with a generous supply of conventional fossil energy resources such as oil, gas and coal as well as renewable energy resources like hydropower, biomass and solar. We simply use them from day by day but we should know that, it is not going to last forever because we are already aware of many of our natural resources from the earth have their limits. On top of that, the world's population will jump from 6.5 billion to around 9 billion over the next 50 years. . However, the natural gas, reserves can meet the country’s requirements for only the next for 50 – 60 years, while oil for the next 20 – 30 years. (JBEG, 1999). So, the usage of energy will gradually increase and we should find other resources to replace the raw resources before it eventually decreases and becomes depleted from the world. For instance, nowadays, the modern world is built on oil. It is used to power transport, construction, manufacturing, and food production - our entire economy. The Peak Oil theory suggests that oil production for a given reserve will follow a bell curve. Now, the production for the reserve is rising to a peak, and then begins declining due to the fact that as the oil levels get lower, it becomes more expensive to retrieve, ending up at a point where you have to put more energy into sucking up and refining the oil than you get out of using it.

As we can see nowadays, the use of natural resources like coal contributes to the greenhouse effect and other serious environmental problems. The world is warming faster and faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years and the 1990 was the warmest decade in the past millennium. Climate change will have an increasingly significant impact on the world circumstances, communities and businesses. As the average temperature has risen, we have also seen an increase in the incident of hot days and hot nights, and a reduction in the number of cold days and nights. As a society, we need to reduce our consumption of electricity and fuel and move toward renewable sources like solar energy resource. Currently, the worldwide renewable percentage contribution is about 18%. Rapid development of renewable energy use is mainly hindered by low fossil fuel prices in world energy markets. By the year 2020, the World Energy Council predicts that the contribution from renewable energy will rise to 30%. Again, half of the total growth is projected in the developing nations. However, solar will become increasingly important with comparable contribution to other resources. In the long term, solar is predicted to be the most dominant renewable energy resources.

Solar energy is a renewable energy source that has been used widely all over the world. It can be used in many technologies and day–to–day usages like heat, electricity, transportation and many more. Nevertheless, like all great things the nature has ever seen, there are two sides of the coin. It means that, even though the solar energy brings lots of benefit, it also has disadvantages. Nevertheless, those drawbacks can be overcome and resolved to satisfy and fulfill the folks’ demands. The first advantage of solar energy is that it is a renewable resource. It does not contribute to pollution as it is an eco-friendly and also helps to decrease the harmful emission of the greenhouse gases. It is truly an ever green source of clean, sustainable power. Moreover, there are no emissions from generating solar power unlike most other methods used to generate power and electricity. Solar energy is also clean and does not let out hazardous and harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and etc. which usually electric generation does. In addition, the energy supply from the solar will last as long as the sun continues to shine.

Secondly, the usage of solar energy can save money. First thing first, people will think about the cost because they know that the installation cost of solar system is very high. Actually merely the initial cost of installation is very high and expensive but the electricity generation is essentially free for the next time and onward. As the systems last for extraordinarily long times, you will be producing free electricity the entire time for your home in the future. Furthermore, you will not have to pay your monthly electrical bills. Simply say, it helps to save your electrical service’s expenditure in long–term period. Other than that, the solar energy does not need fuel, thus saving us money as well as the possibility of polluting the environment by burning fuel. There is no incurring cost; once the initial costing is taken care of, it is virtually maintenance free and it is easily expandable. In addition, solar panels can be added according to the requirement for a family or any machine. Maybe, it seems too expensive to be owned by common people but I believe that as the demand rises for cleaner energy sources and new technologies continue to be developed, the prices of the solar power system will continue to decreasing so that people can have a chance and afford to install it at their shelter places.

Besides that, the solar energy can operate entirely independently, not requiring any connections or anything to a power or gas grid at all, so it can be used easily and effectively anywhere. The system can be set up in remote locations, making it more practical and cost-effective than the supply of utility electricity to a new site. So those locations can rely on solar energy even if the modern technologies do not reach out to them. Nevertheless the installation systems depend on design and usage - how much energy that is being used. If the average electricity usage of the certain place is high, it would need a larger solar system design so that it can support the usage. There are two types of installation of solar systems which are Off-Grid system and Grid-Connected system. First thing first, the Off-Grid system is divided into two which are standalone system and hybrid system. The standalone system consists of the photovoltaic array which is built up of a number of photovoltaic panels to make up the peak power capacity, the charger-controller for controlling the charging and discharging of the battery and a battery bank for storing the electrical energy generated for later use. Storing electrical energy makes PV systems a reliable source of electric power day and night, rain or shine.

Another system named hybrid system has the components of the standalone system but with an additional power generating system such as diesel, wind or wave generators. This system is capable of supplying power without interruption since the diesel generator can be programmed to operate at such intervals so as to maintain the battery bank fully charged. Hybrid systems also combine a number of electricity production and storage pieces to meet energy demand of a given facility or community. Meanwhile, the Grid-Connected system consists of the photovoltaic array and inverter. The inverter converts the direct current electricity generated by the PV array into alternating current electricity which is synchronized with the mains electricity so that excess electricity generated at any time is fed into the grid. Basically, this system is connected with Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to ensure that the power supply is sufficient without any lacking and problems. In this system, the costumers get electricity supply from both TNB and solar power system. The users cannot only buy, but also can sell electricity each month. When the home requires less electricity that the PV array is generating, the excess is fed (or sold) back to the utility and vice versa. By using this way, the utility backs up the PV like batteries do in stand-alone system thus eliminating the need of battery bank which adds to the cost of the system.

The most notable disadvantage of the solar power system is the extremely high initial cost. Actually the high cost of the system is due to the high-cost semiconductor materials which are used to build solar energy system. The costumers usually have to pay lots of money for the first installation. Since the solar power comes from energy produced by the sun, it is highly dependent on climate and weather pattern. The solar energy is not available at night and also may not be accessible in cases of bad weather conditions. The efficiency of the system also relies on the location of the sun, although this problem can be overcome with the installation of certain components. Besides that, the installation of solar panels requires a large area in order to achieve a good level of efficiency. Nowadays, people assume the solar power system can be used only when the weather is bright. So, they take it as a reason to deny the advantages of using the solar system.

On the other side, I want to aver that the thought is totally false. Generally, the solar power system has batteries to store electricity power and it can withstand almost five days with no sunlight. In Malaysia, solar energy is endowed with more than 10 hours of sunshine daily all year round. Its high level of global solar radiation ranges from 12 MJ/m2/day to as high as 21MJ/m2/day (Zain-Ahmed,2000). It also make up between 30-50% of the total (or global) solar radiation (Zain-Ahmed, 1991). Plus, the solar panel merely needs about four hours to fully charge. Moreover, the solar plate is very sensitive towards sunlight and surrounding temperature. For your information, the ambient temperature remains uniformly high over the country throughout the year. Average ambient temperatures are between 26.0oC to 32.0oC. Most locations have a relative humidity of 80% – 88%, rising to nearly 90% in highland areas, and never falling below 60% (Niewolt, 1981). In Malaysia, the monthly average daily solar radiation is 4000–5000 Whr/m2 with the monthly average sunshine duration ranging from four hours to eight hours (Sopian and Othman, 1992).

Because the energy production method creates environmental and health concerns, it is beneficial for scientists and researchers to investigate and improve the solar energy production that is eco-friendly and cleaner compared to other sources. In addition to reducing pollution, it also can reduce the costs of energy in homes and buildings. There are many application of solar energy is created throughout the world across a range of industries, transportation and communication. First of all, solar energy is an important advance in the effort to save the environment and can be implemented for industrial usages. Most industries operate as usual where the power supply is already available. However, there are some places that do not have access to a power grid or energy is not readily available in some form. In this case, the viability of solar energy is very beneficial and becomes crucial in order to generate energy so that the industries can operate similar to other places. Solar energy has been used since the beginning of time as it was developed and in the 1830’s one of the other solar energy platform had been developed as a solar energy cooker on a safari. Since then, many solar energy applications have been formulated, and almost everyone can take advantages of these inventions. For instance, a couple of years ago, a 1.3 megawatt solar-powered stadium have been built in Switzerland, and then in 2009, Taiwan has built a new solar powered stadium for World Game in July. About 8844 solar panel was installed on the stadium roof where it can generate enough energy to power the stadium’s 3300 lights and two huge television screens.

Apart from that, solar energy is often used for communication purposes. It is consumed to power the stations of telecommunication, radio and television. In Malaysia, solar energy is utilized for a gigantic project, V-SAT Satellite Communication for Bario Airport in Sarawak by Gading Kencana Sdn Bhd, an energy service company. As the number of travelers going to Bario increases, the airport needs to improve and upgrade its facilities to handle more frequent flight. Besides using solar energy for facilities in handling the flight, it is also used to power the telecommunication satellite (VSAT) which provide free Wi-Fi internet access to passengers’ usages and a Nano base station for mobile phone connections.

Other than that, solar energy is also utilized in transportation industries such as solar car, solar boat and solar flight where people created them in an attempt to reduce the use of petroleum, lighthouse signal, traffic signal and the warning light found on the aircraft. First thing first, since the1980s, the development of a solar powered car has been an engineering goal. Some vehicle use solar panels for auxiliary power, such as for air conditioning, to keep the interior cool, thus reducing fuel consumption. In 1974, the first solar flight has been made by the unmanned AstroFlight Sunrise plane. Followed by the Solar Riser in 1979, it made the first flight in a solar-powered, fully-controlled, man-carrying flying machine, reaching an altitude of 40 feet. Other than that, a solar balloon was also created. It is a black balloon that is filled with ordinary air. As the sunlight reaches the solar panel on the balloon, the system operates to heat the air inside the balloon and then expands the air causing an upward buoyancy force like a heated hot air balloon.

Secondly, the application of solar energy can be used in almost all industries as well as in residential setting especially for home usages. Most people have no problem to get electricity and other form of energy for their house but it becomes a burden or difficulty for people who live in rural areas. Basically, rural area is located very far away from the towns or cities that have electricity generation and facilities. It is very hard to supply the electricity to those places because they are somewhat far away hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the nearest cities. So, the best solution for such problem is by providing and installing solar system at those places. Basically, at rural areas, people typically use the standalone, or off-grid, solar power systems which consist of solar panels and a battery bank. Apart from that, the usage of solar energy is not only for the rural area but it is also being used in urban areas as well. In suburban and even urban area, people use solar energy for their water heater. Heating water using electricity can be an expensive undertaking and can cost homeowners a lot of money. Applications of solar energy can help people to reduce their water heating and electricity cost. In solar water system, solar thermal collectors are used to heat water and then solar energy propels the water through the system. Solar thermal applications are the most developed and widely used with the flat plate solar collectors being the most technologically developed (Sopian, 2000). This is much more efficient and has lower harmful effects than using electricity-powered water heater system. A study that was carried out in 1996 estimated that the market growth rate was 15%. It is estimated that by year 2020, about 500 000 households will installed with the system (Singh and Boon, 1996).

In conclusion, I strongly believe that the solar energy has a high potential to become an energy resource and is the best alternative renewable resources for the future. Solar has the potential for significant sustained growth, and solar investment may indeed be, at this point of time, the very best area in renewable energy to invest in. According to Altenews’s conclusions, a solar investment strategy could be multifaceted and include multiple components. Based on the researches, interviews, reasons and views regarding the solar system that I have provided, it clearly proven that solar power industry is balanced to carry on its high annual growth. Various qualities make short-term solar growth likely, and factors such as the end of the solar silicon shortage and sales in new markets may push solar power into the realm of conventional power generation, on par with the oil, coal and nuclear. But again, bear in mind that one day, when the natural resources from the earth has run out, the world then will depend on solar resources for generating power for the future generation usages.

After read my research, what did you feel? I think we should develop the solar energy in our country IF we want our natural resources from the earth to exist in this world. Think back people. That's all everyone. Thank you so much for reading.

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