Tassie comes in from the cold

Vast solar arrays in the middle of our hot baking deserts or mainland cities awash with solar panels are generally considered the most efficient way to soak up the abundant sun for energy in our country. In terms of suitability for solar farms in this wide, brown land of ours, the mind definitely points to swelteringly hot parts of the mainland, rather than the cool, fresh, green island of Tasmania.

Not so according to a recent study by the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology which says the cooler regions of the world are, contrary to general belief, an excellent area to generate massive amounts of solar energy. The report says that cool climates, particularly those at a higher altitude, have massive potential to generate solar-powered electricity.

According to an Energy Matters article earlier this month further research by Kotaro Kawajiri and colleagues from Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has found that places such as the Himalayas as being ideal areas to generate solar electricity for the rest of China.

Apparently the key is that hot weather both reduces the life time of solar cells and reduces their efficiency in breaking down the sun’s rays into electricity.

Cool areas of the world such as Antarctica have been touted as the ideal place to set up solar farms. However the question here must surely be, that the benefits — the increase in solar panel lifetime and efficiency in transforming sunlight into energy — must be more than offset by transporting the energy to the consumer?

I stand to be corrected on this though.

Finn wrote a blog post in January explaining that  a Solar Panel’s Performance actually degrades with temperature. It is the amount of sunlight that determines the power output. If you can get a strong sun without scorching temperatures, your solar panels will actually perform better.

But back to Tassie, does this mean that Tasmanians with solar arrays can expect a higher return on their investment? Apparently so. With Tasmanian electricity prices rising by an estimated 23 percent, any form of savings would be more than welcome.

I grew up in Tasmania and can attest to its “Roaring Forties” wind factor as making it a possible wind energy hub of the nation. However the recent findings regarding on solar efficiencies may just give the Tasmanian economy a solar energy impetus.

Are you a Tasmanian solar energy user? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know what kind of savings you have made in the comments below…

Comments

  1. David Maddern says

    There are a couple of other factors with Tassie and places of similar latitude, one of which are in summer the days are longer.. Now daylight isnt sunlight you might say but it is the most scattered light that is higher energy and lower wavelength, in the blue- ultra-violet end of the spectrum most valuable to energy production and with the hole in the ozone layer (the other factor) the UV exposiure is high down there.

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