How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day? What’s a tier 1 panel?

Having the world’s highest average solar radiation per square meter, Australia is considered the most potential and viable solar energy source whether you’re a home or a commercial entity looking to install panels on your premises.

Choosing the right solar system can be very confusing as there’s a lot of misleading jargon and buzzwords – especially with the solar panels! You’ll also have to ensure they are compatible with your entire solar system – you’ve then got to see how they interact with each other before trying to calculate their output, which can be challenging as well.

It is impossible to tell you with certainty that your solar panel produces this much power – as this varies from brand to brand and panel to panel. There’s also something else you need to consider in addition to choosing a panel – the quality of manufacturer, generally ranked via solar panel tiers.

How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day? Photo by Ryan Searle on Unsplash

How are solar panels tiered?

Solar panels are categorized into three tiers, with tier 1 as the best. This can affect output depending on the brand and number of watts per panel (especially over longer periods of time). Your location will also be important – obviously someone in Australia is going to get better value out of a solar installation than someone in Glasgow (only 50 days of sunshine a year there…).

Let’s discuss the concept of a Tier 1 solar panel. This is a bit of a misnomer – in the sense that Tier 1 or Bank-ability solar panels come from companies which have been in the industry for many years and are financially capable of dealing with your warranty issues, repairing issues or any problems you encounter over the ~10 years you will use their product. That’s my convoluted way of saying Tier 1 denotes the ranking of the manufacturer itself, not the solar panel. It is the manufacturer who will back up your product in the case of potential future defective panels or installations. Banks or investors may not want to put their money in your solar power project (commercial solar or residential) unless they’re satisfied your manufacturers are likely to be around if and when your solar systems malfunction. How many successful projects has the company undertaken? How long have they been around? The answers to these questions will impact which tier the manufacturer is.

It is important to keep in mind that Tier 2 or Tier 3 solar panels are not always a poor choice per se – these manufacturers can also offer high quality panels, it’s just riskier to rely on them because the company is recently established, and you may not be sure how long they’ll be in the industry. Maybe their manufacturing standards aren’t as robust as some of the bigger brands – as always, you get what you pay for. It’s a matter of weighing up the pros and cons and ensuring your solar investment is making money within your risk tolerance. And if you’re going for a bigger installation, it’s generally worth going for a quality manufacturer and a tier 1 panel. Preferably more than one, but you get the point.

Who chooses solar panel tiers?

This tier-based ranking (remember, it’s per manufacturer, not per panel) is decided by Bloomberg New Energy Finance – a research organization. There are other ‘tier’ lists out there which are better off avoided as it can be very confusing – the Bloomberg list has been well trusted for a long time.

If you’re interested in more detail in how a company’s tier is decided, the official BloombergNEF site has a useful PDF you can download here.

Just remember, there’s a lot of marketing involved in solar, so be sure to ask as many questions as you can to the salesperson. Grab a copy of the spec sheet for the panels they’re showing you and check it out yourself. Do your due diligence and you can even end up with a cashflow positive solar installation.

How much electricity does a solar panel generate per day?

Your location and the amount of watts in the solar panel will also impact the amount of power your panels are able to generate. solar panels will be in terms of making the most of the solar power.

Your inverter also plays an important role in regulating and maximising generation of solar power. A top-notch quality solar inverter determines how well your solar output is distributed, applicable once the DC power turns into AC.

In Australia you can generally bank on 10-12 hours of sunlight during summer. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call average sunlight 10 hours for our calculation, and the capacity of the solar panel we’re measuring is 300 watts:

Total Watts = Average time of sunlight x Solar Panels watts x Number of Panels

= 10 x 300 x 1

= 3000 Watts Hour or 30KWH Daily

But we also need to consider solar panel efficiency. A solar panel has a maximum of 15–22% efficiency, due to the Shockley-Queisser limit silicon panels will never reach greater than 1/3 efficiency.

Let’s calculate total watts from a single panel, daily, with 20% efficiency:

3000 Watts x 20% = 600 Watt Hours or 0.66KWH per day.

If you want to measure solar output you have numerous options depending on which inverter you’ve chosen. Most of them offer a web-based interface so you can keep an eye on how much money you’re saving – you could even pipe the solar statistics to a Raspberry Pi, or automate reports showing how much you’ve saved. Solar power in Australia has never been cheaper – we’re seeing a meteoric rise in commercial solar installations nationwide, whether you’re Ikea or an SME – it’s time to go green and choose solar power for your business.

Which manufacturers offer tier 1 solar panels in 2021?

As per review.solar for Q1 2021:

  • LONGi
  • Jinko
  • JA Solar
  • Trina Solar
  • Canadian Solar
  • Risen
  • QCells
  • Suntech
  • Talesun
  • First Solar
  • ZNShine
  • Seraphim
  • Eging
  • Haitai New Energy
  • Astronergy
  • Jolywood
  • SunPower/ Maxeon
  • Jinergy
  • VSUN Solar
  • Jetion
  • LG Electronics
  • BYD
  • AE Solar
  • Phono Solar
  • Waaree
  • HT-SAAE
  • REC Group
  • URE
  • ET Solar
  • Renesola
  • Adani
  • Boviet
  • Vikram
  • Ulica
  • Leapton
  • Hansol
  • Kyocera
  • S-Energy
  • Recom
  • Shinsung
  • Heliene
  • Sharp
  • Swelect
  • Photowatt

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Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

 There’s been a big announcement from Deakin University who have figured out a process to remove the silicon from used solar panels – repurposing it for lithium-ion batteries. Let’s learn more about this solar recycling update which was also discussed over at Renew Economy. 

Solar Recycling Update | Breakthrough at Deakin

(source: https://www.deakin.edu.au/ifm)

There’s been a new advancement in solar recycling research. The relatively short lifespan of solar panels and the huge issue of e-waste has been something researchers have been wrestling with for years.

Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials has been where Material scientists Dr Md Mokhlesur Rahman and Prof Ying (Ian) Chen have conducted this groundbreaking research. Probably makes more sense coming from them, so here you go:

“Our discovery addresses several significant challenges currently facing industries dependent on batteries and energy storage heading into the future, Dr Rahman said.

“First, being such an exceptionally high value commodity with widespread applications we do not want any of this precious product wasted. Battery grade nano-silicon is highly expensive and retails for more than $44,000 per kilogram.

“Second, with the automotive industry set to be battery driven in the future, the push to find ways to increase battery capacity is growing.

“Part of the silicon repurposing process is to nano-size the battery grade silicon, leaving a nano-silicon which can store about 10 times more energy in the same space.” Dr Rahman continued.

His colleague Dr Chen elaborated on the importance of being able to extract the silicon cells and reuse them:

“Silicon cells are the most important component of a solar panel, transferring the sun’s energy into electrons,” Professor Chen said.

“They’re also a high-value material being a chemical element and far too precious to end up as waste, which is why this finding is significant.

“We can’t claim solar panels to be recyclable, in a circular economy sense, until scientists find a way to harvest and repurpose their most valuable components,” he said.

So whilst it’s not solar recycling per se, it’s certainly a gigantic step in the right direction. What will this mean for solar panel recycling companies such as Reclaim PV? Hopefully it’ll give them a big push as well. The lifespan of solar panels has always been the white elephant on the roof so the more we can extract and repurpose from old panels the better.

According to an article on Renew Economy, the project is supported by Institute for Frontier Material’s Circular Economy Strategy Lead, Catherine McMahon, in collaboration with Deakin Research Innovations’ Senior Commercial Manager Andrew Rau and industry partner Delaminating Resources Melbourne.

 

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Solar Waste – What’s the state of solar panel recycling?

Solar waste is a currently unavoidable byproduct of Australia’s obsession with solar power. But what do we do with these panels when they reach end of life? Let’s take a look at solar panel recycling and what the current climate is, helped by a recent ABC Radio show about the topic.

Solar Waste and solar panel recycling – a primer.

We wrote about recycling solar panels back in January, but a new interview with Reclaim PV (who we talk about in the other article too) has some more information about this critical issue. 

A radio program by the ABC had some very interesting thoughts on the topic – you can listen to it here

The panel included:

  • Jeremy Hunt, solar panel installer
  • Professor Rodney Stewart, Griffith University
  • Clive Fleming, solar panel recycler, Reclaim PV
  • Andrew Gilhooly, Sunpower

With two million houses in Australia now enjoying the fruits of renewable energy and installing solar on their rooftop, their lifespan of 10-15-20 years is now starting to slowly fizzle out, especially for the early adopters. However there’s a huge issue to do with disposing of the solar PV waste in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Professor Rodney Stewart from Griffith University estimates that by 2050, we’ll have 1,500 kilotons of solar waste which will be sent to landfill unless we can figure out a more intelligent way to dispose of something supposed to help the environment. 

Solar Waste - Reclaim PV
Solar Waste – Reclaim PV (source: reclaimpv.com)

The only company in Australia to recycle panels is Reclaim PV in Adelaide, who take in 50,000 per year, but only panels manufactured without toxic chemicals. They then, according to owner Clive Fleming,

“…get the cells, completely separate that as well for the silver contacts, the aluminium and then the silicone to provide those back out to industry.”

According to the ABC program host Emilia Terzon, the Federal Government says it’s committed $167 million to an Australian recycling investment plan and state and federal environment ministers are expected to discuss how to tackle solar waste when they meet later this year. The Government is looking to set rules around how the industry deals with dead solar panels – adding them to the Product Stewardship Act, which mandates how electronic waste is dealt with.

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

Watch this space. There will be plenty more on this topic as panels continue to reach EOL (end of life) and the policymakers are forced into action. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Redeployable solar trial at shopping centres

Redeployable solar is a very interesting topic as the issue of solar panel recycling comes to the fore. This week ARENA have announced funding for redeployable commercial solar via Australian startup Solpod. 

Redeployable solar

Redeployable solar – on Friday the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding for an Australian start up (Solpod Pty Ltd (Solpod)) to trial the installation of movable solar panels on commercial and government building rooftops. 

According to a post on the ARENA website, the startup has undertaken trials with ARENA, ERM Power, GPT and Property NSW.

Redeployable Solar Solpod
Redeployable Solar Solpod (source: solpod.com

Arena CEO Darren Miller, who took over from previous head Ivor Frischknecht last year, was quoted discussing the redeployable solar and their partnership with Solpod:

“Solpod’s new way of installing solar will pave the way for businesses who were previously locked out of rooftop solar to take up renewable energy solutions and options under shorter term power purchase agreements.

“This Australian start up will help to accelerate solar PV innovation and allows for renewable energy alternatives in niche markets, providing a cost-competitive alternative to standard methods of fixed mounting for delivering rooftop grid connected solar PV,” Mr Miller said.

There were also some comments from founder and CEO of Solpod James Larratt, who discussed the new ‘game-changing’ tech:

“Despite rooftop solar being cheaper and more sustainable than the grid, many businesses have made the rational decision to not adopt solar because of other factors such as length of commitment, disruption on site and damage to buildings. Solpod is the game-changer that removes these barriers and enables businesses to capture the savings in energy costs.”

“Solpod’s solution can adapt to meet individual business needs. For businesses that rent their premises, Solpod can offer short-term contracts to match lease terms. For landlords, Solpod allows flexibility for changing site use and will not damage the roof,” he said.

You can learn more about Solpod’s relocatable commercial solar via their website.

 

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Recycling Solar Panels | What to do with old solar panels.

Recycling solar panels is a topic which will be a lot more prevalent as the initial ‘wave’ panels begin to reach their end of life. Let’s take a look at what the plans are for trying to minimise the environmental impact and maximise the value  of a used solar panel.

Recycling Solar Panels | Will there be a waste crisis for old panels?

Australia has one of the highest PV solar uptakes in the world. There are plenty of us who have had solar installed for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are talking about end of life strategies to dispose of/ repurpose solar panels, so that they don’t cause a problem for the environment. 

Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel has been crusading for the implementation of such strategies for solar panels, calling it a ‘systemic problem’:

“We’ve had a solar panel industry for years which is an important environmental initiative, and it should have been incumbent on government to act in concert with the growth of the industry so we have an environmentally responsible end-of-life strategy,” he said in a quote to the Sydney Morning Herald.

We’ve written previously about solar panel recycling and, although it’s good to see things like the ELSi project in Germany, there’s still a ways to go before we figure out the best way forward to recycle solar waste.

Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels
Reclaim PV: Recycling Solar Panels (source: reclaimpv.com)

According to the director of Reclaim PV (the only dedicated photovoltaic recycler in Australia), Clive Fleming, they company recycles 90 per cent of materials in a panel. The company has been lobbying for state bans on landfill disposal of solar panels. 

Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Peter Schmigel also had a quote in the SMH about how a proper plan for recycling PV cells could have a positive effect on the economy:

“Recovery rates have been out of sight since the beginning of the scheme, nobody has said anything at all about there being an inbuilt recycling cost. It generates jobs, it generates environmental outcomes and yet for some reason we have policymakers who are hesitant about [establishing similar schemes] for solar PVs and batteries,” he said.

We expect over the coming year or two we’ll hear a lot more about this, with Sustainability Victoria working on a ‘national approach to photovoltaic product stewardship’, with their recommendations presented to the environment ministers around the middle of this year. 

Victoria have already announced they’ll ban electronic waste in landfill from July 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see if/how the other states follow suit.
 

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