Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letters: Efficiency Key to Solar

After decades of promise, the rising price of electricity and the dropping cost of solar panels have made solar power financially sensible. But, like all technology, attention to detail can make a significant difference in the outcome.

A horizontal installation of solar panels such as that at Santa Catalina School, as pictured in The Herald on Oct. 5, is convenient to install but inefficient. At our latitude, a south-facing panel tilted at 32 degrees, or one raised approximately 2.5 feet above the other, can produce 40 percent more electricity than one mounted horizontally.

That, for example, would raise the electricity savings for the Santa Catalina project from $1 million to almost $1.5 million over 25 years.

In the northern hemisphere, unshaded solar panels should always be tilted to face true south. Monterey's latitude is 37 degrees north. The ideal tilt for a fixed panel in Monterey is 32 degrees. An improvement of several more percent can be achieved by adjusting the panel twice a year to account for the fact the sun is higher in the summer and lower in the winter.

The most efficient solar panel is mounted to track the sun's daily motion across the sky. There are innovative ways to passively track the sun's motion, providing the ultimate in power production at a moderate increase in cost.

Source: http://www.montereyherald.com/letters/ci_21762962/letters-efficiency-key-solar

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