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Alternative energy sources: Electricity by solar radiation - Is solar electricity suitable for Hong Kong? Currently, about 90% of global energy is supplied by fossil fuels which are expected to run out within the next 100 years.
Two solar electricity systems, namely, a household solar energy system and a solar street lamp used in remote areas will be studied and the cost of using these devices will be calculated. Before studying solar electricity, we need to find out what the cost of electricity for a typical family in Hong Kong is.
How many units of electrical energy were consumed in Simon's household during the two months?
Simon is concerned about the environment and is thus interested in the application of solar energy.
Solar modules come with a 20-year warranty and can produce 120 W DC of power in full sunlight. The batteries allow uninterrupted operation of major appliances, and give backup power during a utility blackout. The DC-AC inverter continuously converts solar DC current into common household AC current.
The charge controller disconnects the solar modules from the batteries when they are fully charged or when insufficient voltage is generated by the modules, in order to prevent the batteries from overcharging or discharging through the modules.
Based on the information above, answer the following questions to find out whether the solar electricity system is suitable for Simon's house. First, the daily amount of energy that can be generated and its equivalent cost will be investigated.
The data displayed in the Hong Kong Observatory's website shows that the average amount of solar radiation energy received every day (mean daily global solar radiation) varies from month to month. Estimate the payback period of the solar electricity system, i.e., how long does it take for the cost of electricity saved to compensate for the cost of purchasing the system?
Next, we shall investigate if the system can provide sufficient electrical power for the household appliances in Simon's home. How much power can be produced by a single battery, assuming that it produces the optimal output voltage and current as shown in the table above?
Determine the length of time that the solar electricity system can operate these appliances if the energy stored in the batteries is equivalent to the amount calculated in Q3, and the power output is identical to that found in Q6. Solar street lighting systems are used in many developing countries and remote areas of large developed countries like Australia. List the differences between the specifications of the solar lighting system and those of the household solar electricity system in part II. It is claimed that the lighting system can be used for 12 hours per day for five days without bright sunlight. Although solar street lighting systems have a good performance, the installation cost of solar lighting systems is relatively high when compared with conventional street lamps.
Explain why these lighting systems, as well as other solar energy products, are often used in developing countries and remote areas of large developed countries.
This diagram shows the basic concept involved in converting sunlight to electricity by using Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

The solar panels collect sunlight and convert it into DC electricity, which flows through wires to batteries where it is stored until it is needed. Depending on the complexity of your home solar power system there could be additional pieces of equipment, which provide safeguards, and you may not have a charge controller or battery bank if you are tied to the grid and don’t plan to store power that was generated during the day for use at night.
Solar Panel or Array – Made up of multiple photovoltaic (PV) cells, these PV panels capture the sunlight and create electricity. Charge Controller – This piece of equipment protects your batteries from being overcharged and can help to extend the life of your batteries.
Battery Bank – Like the charge controller just mentioned, this would be used on systems that store backup power in batteries. Inverter – Alternating current (AC) is what most household appliances run on, so the inverter turns the direct current (DC) generated by the solar panels or coming from stored power in the battery bank, into usable electricity for your home.
Generator – Typically  these run on gas or diesel fuel and are more common for off-grid sites.
AC Breaker Box or Panel – This would be the normal breaker box found in homes or cabins where your electric service provider connects to your home wiring system. From an environmental stand point, solar panels contribute significantly to the reduction of fossil fuel use and and emission protecting the environment from further pollution and degradation. For further information check-out Solar BC or  Vancouver Renewable Energy Cooperative.  Keep an eye on the Klondike Contracting Blog for sustainable renovation tips and ideas.
Subscribe To Our Blog!Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. About Klondike ContractingKlondike brings together an innovative team of professionals that specialize in general contracting, renovations and interior design services for commercial and residential properties in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The sun has been used for drying clothes and growing food for thousands of years, but only recently has the sun been used for solar power. Concerns over pollution, environmental degradation, and resource depletion have led to an increasing awareness of the importance of developing solar energy. Just the tiny fraction of the sun's energy that hits the Earth (around a hundredth of a millionth of a percent) is enough to meet all our power needs many times over. In fact, every minute, enough energy arrives at the Earth to meet our demands for a whole year - if only we could harness it properly. There are three ways to harness the sun's energy for use in our homes: solar cells, solar water heating, and solar furnaces. Enough power can be generated to run a 100W light bulb from just one square meter of solar panel. Solar furnaces use a large array of mirrors to concentrate the sun's energy into a small space to produce very high temperatures. Once solar panels are installed, they produce energy without generating waste or pollution. Solar electric generation is economically competitive where grid connection or fuel transport is difficult, costly or impossible. Once the initial capital cost of building a solar power plant has been met, operating costs are low when compared to existing power technologies. They are applicable for low-power uses such as solar powered garden lights and battery chargers.

A solar panel saves approximately 0.7 pounds of coal per kWh, or 2 pounds of carbon dioxide per kWh. Over its 35-year expected life, a 10 kW system will provide CO2 reduction equivalent to planting 1450 trees.
For larger applications, many photovoltaic cells are needed, corresponding to high investment costs and large land requirements. The cost effectiveness of a solar energy system is dependent upon the location and climate. The benefits and drawbacks of using these systems and their applicability for use in Hong Kong will then be explored.
Additionally, he would like to find out whether using a solar energy system can help him save money in the long run.
The electricity generated by the solar panels flows through a charge controller, which cuts off the flow when the battery bank is full, so that the batteries are not overcharged. However, most household appliances use AC electricity, so the the DC electricity generated from our solar panels will need to flow through an inverter to supply the AC electricity for common use. When performing maintenance on the system, it is used to shut off the power coming from the solar panels. A 2 kilowatt system would run between $18,000-$$20,000 and would provide you with approximately 10 kilowatt hour of energy, enough to support the average family’s daily activities. Since 1998, Klondike Contracting has built a solid reputation on providing reliable services and delivering exceptional results.
There are some solar powered systems that utilize heat energy while others transform the light energy into electricity. Although solar energy is an inexhaustible and pollution-free energy source, using it to generate electricity is not popular in large cities like Hong Kong.
He came across an advertisement on the Internet which described a household solar electricity system. Hong Kong has a small city area with a well established electricity transmission system and a low cost of electricity. However, if your system doesn’t use batteries and store  backup power, then its not needed.
This could be needed if cloudy weather prevents enough power to be created or if you are performing maintenance on your system.
With his knowledge of physics, Simon decided to investigate the applicability of this system for his house. Normally, this rating represents the maximum power they can generate under ideal conditions.
Based on your power needs and the rating of your panels you will be able to tell how many panels are needed in your system.

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