To establish which energy source is best, we use six key metrics. Specifically, these are energy price, life span, energy generated […]
Photovoltaics actually describes the process of converting light into electricity at an atomic level.3 This is made possible by some very special materials that have a property known as the photoelectric effect.4 This means that, as photovoltaics absorb photons of light, they also release electrons.5 These electrons are then captured to form an electric current that can be used to power anything from mobile phones to satellites.6 The exact amount of energy photovoltaics can generate depends on the amount of light striking their surface and how efficient they are at converting light into electrical energy. Currently, the most cost-effective photovoltaic systems convert between 14% and 20% of the energy contained within the light into electricity.7 However, there are systems on the market that convert as much as 45% of the light into electricity.8 These panels are extremely expensive though, and are mainly used by organisations such as NASA.9 Currently, photovoltaics produce less than one one-thousandth of the world’s energy demand.10 Nevertheless, photovoltaics have the potential to produce an incredible 470 PWh.11 That’s more than four times the world’s current energy demand.12
If we pretend the United Kingdom received as much sunlight as southern Spain, less than 2% of the UK’s land would need to be covered with photovoltaics in order to meet the country’s energy demand.18
To be completed.
Photovoltaics work best when they are located in sunny countries, like those close to the equator. In fact, in these locations, they can be three times more cost effective than they are in northern Europe.19
|Value for Money|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Reliability|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Eco-friendliness|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Global Potential|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Overall|||||★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
To be completed.
Title image taken by dvoevnore and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock.
United States map created by SUPER RADICAL.
Image of photovoltaic farm taken by abriendomundo and reproduced under license from Shutterstock.
World map created by SUPER RADICAL. World map based on all areas that receive more than 1,800 kWh of sunlight except for any areas that are covered with forests, cropland, mountains or significant quantities of ice. Irradiation information sourced from SolarGIS – ‘Global Horizontal Irradiation’ – Map. Cropland cover based on 2000 data and sourced from Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network – ‘Croplands, 2000: Global’. Areas of forest cover sourced from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – ‘Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005, Progress Towards Sustainable Forest Management’ – Page 15. Areas of mountain and ice cover sourced from Koistinen, Ville – ‘The Main Biomes in the World’ – commons.wikimedia.org.
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