These days, solar panels are everywhere – from Queensland roofs to the flats of Spain. But with so many variables affecting solar energy production, where’s the best spot for solar? Our experts explore the biggest factors affecting solar and best possible locations below.
PV solar panels create electricity from light from the sun. So the higher the solar irradiance level, the more light that comes through. Higher solar irradiance levels are found closer to the equator, making latitude and also elevation important.
Best Spot: Catacama Desert
Northern Chile has the highest levels of solar irradiance in the world – right where Catacama desert sits. This area also has dry air that has very few clouds wandering above it. And although it’s a desert, it only peaks at 24.4°C.
Disadvantage: While deserts are great spots for generating solar electricity, they’re usually far away from high-density towns or cities.
Even if solar irradiance is high, factors closer to the ground can get in the way of the supply of sunlight. Cloud coverage, rainfall and aerosols in the atmosphere can reduce the amount of radiation that reaches solar panels. And high temperatures can lower the effectiveness of the technology.
Best Spot: High Orbit
If most of the factors affecting solar are close to the ground, why not go above? In a high enough orbit, a solar array can be in sunlight for almost 24 hours straight. And there won’t be any clouds or particles getting in the way, meaning the solar radiation it receives can be up to 33% higher.
Disadvantages: Although there are plenty of stations and satellites to power in space, it’s distant from energy-hungry cities. And the cost of engineering space solar panels, sending them into space and maintaining them is astronomical.
While it’s important to be located in a flat area that has no shade, a low disaster risk, and long days, it’s also important to be close to communities. With current battery technology still young in development, solar energy is most effective when it’s used quickly by close populations.
Best Spot: Inner-City Roads
While the current technology isn’t quite there – SolaRoad (a solar bike path) in the Netherlands only produces around 9,800 kWh a year – the idea is incredibly valuable. Integrating solar systems into long roads and pathways means the power generated can be used by a city instantly.
Disadvantages: Besides its proximity to energy consumers, almost everything else is a downside – from shade to risk of damage.
When it comes to residential solar power, Australia has it all: high solar irradiance, long days, and handy rain to keep your panels clean. Want to start generating your own solar power? Get in touch with our Brisbane solar panel installers team online to organise an obligation-free quote today.