How do Solar Power Plants Function in the Night?


The energy of the sun is converted into electricity either through photovoltaic cells or using solar-thermal turbines. While harnessing the energy of the sun to generate electricity is not new, people have been seeking a device that can pause the process i.e. hold on to the energy in sunlight before changing it to electricity.
Some methods including trying to capture the sun’s energy by using it to pump water uphill so that the energy is stored until the water moves back downhill. Another option is compressing and then un-compressing air. Unfortunately both these methods waste a lot of energy and only 80 per cent of solar power is restored at the other end. Even solar batteries aren’t very efficient as they as very expensive to be used as a viable large-scale storage option.

The most efficient solar power plants are designed such that as long as the sun is shining, its energy is being collected in some type of solar collector. So what happens to this system when the sun sets? How do we get electricity when the sun is no longer in the sky?

As solar panels need sunlight to generate electricity, they actually cannot function in darkness. Hence there is a confusion around the working of solar power at night. It is due to the facility of solar storage that homes and residential complexes can run on the power supplied from the sun.

A solar panel system absorbs sunlight also known as photovoltaic energy to convert it into DC power. The DC power is sent through the system’s inverter to convert it into alternating current. This current feeds electricity in our homes and other facilities that use solar panels. If the electricity produced is more than required, the excess is fed back to the electric grid.

Two solutions resolve the problem of limited hours of sunlight.

1.Net metering

Net metering is one of the biggest reasons for solar power plants being such a beneficial investment. When solar panels produce excess power net metering allows this power to be sent back to the grid. You get compensated by the utility for the excess grid supply along with credits which get added to your electric bill. In its essence your system’s excess production earns you money. Another advantage of net metering is that it allows your home to maintain a connection to the grid even after installing solar panels.

With this grid connection you have a power supply irrespective of the time of day and seasonal variations. The only downside to net metering is that it’s not available everywhere

2.Solar-plus-storage technology

This technology allows your solar panel to access electricity overnight when the production in the solar panel is dormant. Owing to the grid connections and solar energy storage, solar panels make for a sustainable round-the-clock energy solution.

While it is natural that solar panels will not operate at maximum production when it is cloudy and in times of no sunlight, it is easy to find the right option for storing solar energy to power with the best solar power plant manufacturer in India.


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