The Great Solar Panel Rip-off: Part 2
In part one of this series we looked at the projections for electricity production by the telephone pole Solar Panel Program. In part two we will take look to see if these claims are valid or not. But before we do that, we have to accept a few facts.
Solar cells, the individual components of the solar panels only work at maximum efficiency when they directly face the sun. The reason for this is because the cells need a particle of light called a photon to hit them in such a way that an electron is “pushed” into the circuit. The only way this happens with any type of frequency is when the photon hits straight on. Think of trying to throw a ball through a hole. If you are directly in front of the hole and throw the ball you have a good chance of getting it into the hole. If on the other hand you stand at the side of the wall and try to throw the ball in, most of them will just bounce off the wall without going into the hole. The same thing happens with a solar panel.
When you take a look at an individual pole mounted Solar Panel you will notice a few things. The first is that it is rigidly attached to the pole facing in a specific direction in relationship to the earth. By being mounted this way, the panel can not move as the sun orbits the earth. Now most but not all of these panels are mounted facing south. Keeping this in mind and the fact that to obtain maximum efficiency the panel must face directly at the sun, we can use this diagram to show that these conditions will only be met for a short time each day.
As you can see if the panel is mounted facing south, when the sun raises in the east the light will not strike the panel and produce electricity. The same thing happens when the sun is setting in the west. During the time the sun moves towards “high noon” it still is not facing the panel. It is only when the sun is in the southern horizon will it be in such a position to produce electricity at the projected output that has been claimed. This you can see will only be a small amount of time, but there is another problem in trying to achieve those projected electricity outputs.
Besides being mounted in a specific direction on the telephone poles, the panels are fixed at a specific angle. This angle is 45 degrees from the horizon. Now the problem with this is that the sun is not always in a fixed position on the equatorial horizon. This can be visualized with this diagram:
You can see, as the seasons change, the position of the sun in the southern horizon changes to. In the winter, the sun is low in the south, while in the summer it is almost directly overhead. Each of these positions will not allow for direct exposure of the sun to the panel. Each degree off of the 45 degree mounting angle will affect the efficiency of the cells. Again, only for short periods of time will the panel be in an optimum position to run at maximum efficiency.
In each of the examples I have just shown you, the efficiency of the panels will only be at maximum for a short time each day of the year, but now we have to combine the effect of each situation together in order to determine the true efficiency of the panels.
Let’s for argument sake say that it is 9 o’clock in the morning on a winter day. The angle that the sun is at for that time is 45 degrees relational to the face of the panel. Now let’s say that at 45 degrees the panel will only produce 50% of its rated output. Because it is winter, we can assume that the horizon angle is 45 degrees and the same characteristic holds true, it will only produce 50% rated output. Taking these two conditions, 50% of 50% is 25% of rated output. In other words, if the panel is suppose to produce 200 watts as claimed by PSE&G at rated 100% output, on a winter day at 9 o’clock it will only produce 50 watts. Even at noon when the sun would be perpendicular on the east-west plane, the panel will only produce at 50% rated capacity, or 100 watts. This would be just enough to run one 100 watt light bulb. And this would only be for a short time each day.
Here is a picture of a street in New Jersey where the panels have been installed.
Again, note that they are fixed in a specific position on the poles. In this case they are all facing in the same direction. Now, when you are driving around take a look at the panels and see what direction they are facing. Take note of trees, buildings and other things that might block the sun from striking the panels. And when you are through doing that ask this simple question, “How can these panels every produce what we have been told they would”?
I hope that when you think about the evidence I have presented and your own observations you will agree with this conclusion. There is no way that at anytime can this project ever deliver the 40 Megawatts (MG) that its proponents claim it will. The most I believe at anytime this fiasco could possible deliver would be on the order of 10 Megawatts, and only for a few hours per day in the spring and fall of the year. Any other times the conditions will be such that the panels cannot produce the stated output and since the panels are facing in every direction imaginable, including northeast and northwest, directly away from the sun, it is an outright lie when they say it will produce 40 Megawatts (MG) of clean energy. The only thing clean about this project is the cleaning out of the wallets of the rate payers in New Jersey.
In the third part of this series, we will take a look at the politician, Upendra Chivukula (D-17), who has been the principle sponsor in what seems to be every piece of “clean” energy legislation that has come out of Trenton. It should make for some interesting reading.