Solar Power Los Angeles
Quintessentially, solar power is the derivation of energy from the sun. Ultimately, all energy is derived from this source, that is, from the ambient rays of sunlight that strike the earth. The power of these rays is considerable. While only a fraction of this energy penetrates our atmosphere, an even smaller amount is convertible to usable energy. The generation of solar power is divided into two fundamentally different methods: thermal and photovoltaic. One method utilizes the heat energy of sunlight while the other directly converts the photons of sunlight into solar power and usable electricity.
Thermal Solar Power
The thermal method, also known as concentrated solar power (CSP), focuses sunlight on a particular vessel to raise the temperature of the solution inside. There are two main types of thermal solar power plants: the trough and the power tower. As its name indicates, a trough system in a solar power plant uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate the captured sunlight onto a pipe running the length of a trough. The system heats a transfer medium contained within the pipe. This heated fluid is pumped to a heat exchanger where steam is produced. A standard generator then produces electricity from this steam.
Essentially, a power tower works identically. However, there is no trough. Instead, there are simply mirrors focused on a single vessel located on the top of a tower. Again, a transfer liquid is heated, sent to a heat exchanger to create steam and a generator then produces electricity.
Direct Solar Power
Direct solar power production of electricity from sunlight operates in a completely different manner. First, an array of photovoltaic cells is assembled in a panel. Each solar panel is electrically linked to its brothers. Tracking motors are used to maintain the optimal facing of each solar pane to the sun. As sunlight touches on each cell in this array, the photovoltaic effect causes electricity to be generated. It is, in short, a miracle of nature. The electricity thus produced is then fed into the power grid.
Is LA Suitable for Solar Power Generation?
Considerable examination should be given to the choice of locale in selecting a generating system that depends on solar power. The Los Angeles metro area is ideal. It is blessed with an average of 263 days of sunshine per year. Bear in mind that on the other days, it is not usually overcast the entire the day. In effect, LA has 310 days of usable sunlight. Combining this fact with the ever increasing cost of electricity in LA, one can make a very potent argument that investing in a solar power generating system is desirable.
The Future of Solar Power
Solar power is here to stay. Many failures and as many successes have marked its maturation as an industry. The depletion of oil, natural gas and coal resources only bodes well for its future. As technology develops to increase its efficiency and lower its cost, the future of solar power will only be further enhanced.