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How the Sun effects solar energy generation in the UK

November 2022’s COP26 highlighted that solar lighting is a key part of the energy industry’s future sustainability goals. To maximise the benefits of solar energy and create a positive legacy for future generations, lighting professionals need to bring science and technology together.

One company leading the charge in this field is OG2 Lighting, a designer, manufacturer and installer of solar solutions. OG2 has developed a product range that will change the direction of residential, amenity and street lighting for a wide range of applications.

As technology changes are advancing rapidly in both energy conversion and energy storage, it is crucial to understand the parameters that make an installation successful.

Measuring energy from the Sun...

Solar energy begins with the sun, and in temperate regions of the world, such as the UK, this is a variable input and there are a limited number of days throughout the winter months to harvest this solar energy. This is why it’s so important to understand the sun’s energy throughout different times of the year and various regions of the world, to produce the most accurate figures for predicting solar energy harvesting.

The measurement for the energy received from the sun over a given area is known as the ‘insolation’ and is measured in Watts/m². Figures for different regions of the world have been compiled for many years and these figures are available via NASA for any specific location. These measures can show the sun’s input and demonstrate the actual insolation reaching a potential solar panel.

The path of the sun as it changes throughout the year can be presented in sun path diagrams; these show the angle of the sun for the summer and winter equinox at a specific location. Measuring kWhr/m²/day, the variances even during the summer months are significant, due to clouds and shading.

Predicting optimum energy harvesting...

This information is critical to maximising the harvested energy from a solar panel tilted and aimed in the correct direction. It is important to mount a solar panel facing south, at an angle greater than 45°. This is due to the effective energy loss from the increase in surface area and also the array incidence loss as the angle changes throughout the day.

There are handy smartphone apps available that produce fairly accurate positioning information, which can be used on-site to optimise the orientation.

Having established the quantity of the sun’s energy that can be expected to harvest, the peak sun hours for each day can be monitored and therefore predict the baseline for energy harvested throughout the day.

How the Sun affects solar energy...

Solar panels are made up of solar cells most types connected in series, with each cell requiring an equal energy input from the sun. If any cells receive less input than the others, this cell restricts the current flow and therefore less energy is harvested.

This can be affected by the input of the sun by clouds, shading, and reduced sunlight in winter months. The shading of a solar panel should be limited as much as possible, and optimum placement can be achieved through site surveying.

By ensuring the optimum energy harvesting from the sun, the benefits of solar lighting and the sustainable future of the industry can be maximised.

Discover more about OG2’s solar solutions >

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