There are three main types of solar panel, monocrystalline, polycrystalline and amorphous. Each type has it's own cnaricteristics and environmental impact.
Monocrystalline solar cells are made from thin wafers of silicon, sliced from large crystals that have been grown under carefully controlled conditions. This process is very complex and energy intensive.
Polycrystalline panels are slightly cheaper to produce, as the manufacturing conditions are less demanding. In this form a number of interlocking silicon crystals grow together. Panels based on these cells are cheaper per unit area than Monocrystalline panels, but they are slightly less efficient.
Amorphous silicon panels donít use silicon in crystal form, instead the silicon is deposited in a very thin layer on a backing substrate (Aluminium for example). Sometimes several layers of silicon doped in slightly different ways to respond to different wavelengths of light are laid on top of one another to improve the efficiency. The production methods are complex, but less energy intensive than crystalline panels.
The use of germanium in amorphous silicon-germanium thin film solar cells provides residual power generating capacity at night due to background infrared radiation.
Any Answer to finding and implimenting new ways of producing power for the millions of users is based on wether the new source requires mechanical or moving parts so that the producer can make a future profit on the sale of replacement systems or spare parts as the moving parts wear out. Any system that has no moveing parts such as Solar Panels means little or no futur of making a profit for the producer or investor. This is why there is a lot of investment and plans for Windmills which have moving parts. And little or no investment or Plans for Solar Panels becasuse they have no moving parts.
The power of sunshine at midday is 1kwh per square meter.
The average solar power hitting a south facing roof in Britain is about 0.11kw per square meter.
The UK has about 40% less solar energy available via sunlight than the equator.
A typical 4kw solar panel array on a roof in the UK can produce a year round average of about 12kwh per day,(20w per sqm of panel)
A solar panel will produce 4 times the energy it took to manufacture in its 25 year lifespan. In a very sunny climate this could rise to 7 times.
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Lets compare the energy Footprint of Solar panel which is -47 Kwh with some other things in the database: