Melbourne Polytechnic Green Skills Centre

Solar Technology (PV and SHW)


The total solar energy absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year.

The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth's non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

However, any building will always require some sort of energy consuming intervention. So the task becomes how to a) minimise this use, b) make it as efficient as possible, and finally c) choose an appropriate energy source so that the impact from using the energy is minimised.

Solar photovoltaics (PVs) are arrays of cells containing a material that converts solar radiation into direct current electricity. There are a range of materials used in making PV cells but one of the most common elements is “Silicon”, one of the most abundant elements on the earth. Due to the growing demand for renewable energy sources, the manufacture of solar cells and photovoltaic arrays has advanced dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, the cost of producing one unit of energy from solar PV’s is still significantly higher than when produced by burning Coal.

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Last Modified: 27th November 2014