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    Solar

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Australia

Australia’s Solar Energy

The utilization of energy created by the heat and light of the sun and converting it into electricity is commonly known as Solar Power Energy. It was in the 1860’s when solar power technologies was first developed, arising from the distress of industrialist that the current coal, oil and fossil fuels supply would become scarce and limited. Thus, becoming more costly for individual households to afford.

The growing concern has then led to the re-evaluation and re-assessment of the international energy policies and regulations. According to the 2018 World Economy Outlook published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Energy Agency, the global demand for energy increased by 2.1% in 2017 with a 398 GW of solar PV installed around the world, and, meeting the 2% of global electricity demand.

In which, the rate of installations are influenced by changes, alterations and updates in the policy mechanisms supporting such technology. Nonetheless, this trend is expected to significantly increase in numbers by another 25% by the year 2040.

As one of the fastest developing countries, the land down under has relied greatly on solar power energy as their preferred energy source for decades now. However, it was only then in the year 2015 when the age of solar power technology in Australia underwent a rapid growth. The increasing cost of energy resources like fossil fuels, has led to a significant number of households that are turning into solar energy.

The emergence of government funded incentive programs for the incorporation of domestic and commercial solar power utilization also proliferated. Through the years, solar-powered technology has become Australia’s optimal energy source.

Geographically speaking, the Australian continent is known to have the highest solar radiation per square meter of any continent with an average of 58 million petajoules (PJ) of solar radiation per year, which is approximately 10,000 times larger than the country’s total energy consumption. This has helped increase Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $275 million for every petajoule of energy consumed.

To date, there are 2.15 million or 21% of Australian households are recorded to have Solar Photovoltaic (also known as solar PV) with a combined capacity of over 12.9 gigawatts installed on their rooftops that directly converts sunlight into electricity using a semiconductor cell or solar PV cell. This type of solar power technology is the most common and widely used in households.

Gel Battery

Gel Battery

All solar power systems are composed of solar batteries. However, not all solar panel system manufacturers and installers provide one solar battery type. Most of the time they offer different models of batteries. Generally, there are four main types of solar batteries that are paired with residential solar panel systems. The commonly used batteries are Lead-acid batteries, Lithium-ion batteries, Nickel-based batteries, and Flow batteries. Each of these solar batteries has its own characteristics. But among the four types, the most commonly used is the lead-acid batteries, and this type of battery also comes with different variations. 

For today’s article, we will discuss one of the lead-acid battery types, which is the Gel battery.

What is Gel Battery?

A gel battery is a common type of sealed lead-acid battery. The major difference between gel batteries among the other lead-acid options is the material inside. Generally, a gel battery is made up of silica in its inner electrolyte mixture, which is responsible for producing a gel-like substance. Among other lead-acid batteries, gel batteries produce more power. Besides, this battery is valve-regulated, low maintenance, extremely robust, and versatile.

Since the battery is also “sealed”, it does not require water level monitoring unlike standard lead-acid options, plus it does not expel gas. It only produces few fumes so it’s ideal to use in any place without much ventilation. These factors make it a safer option for solar panel systems than other traditional lead-acid options.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Gel batteries

Gel Batteries are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to solar battery choice due to their several advantages and minimal disadvantages.

Advantages 

  • It is ideal for deep cycle applications and the battery life span is ranging between 500 to 5000 cycles.
  • It does not require any high maintenance, unlike other batteries. 
  • Since it produces a gel-like structure, there will be no spill.
  • It has minimal corrosion making it compatible with sensitive electronic devices
  • Rugged and vibration-resistant
  • Safe option to choose. You’re less likely to suffer from sulphuric acid burns.

Disadvantages 

  • Among the other lead-acid batteries, it has the most expensive initial cost.
  • Water cannot be refilled if overcharging happens.
  • You are required to use special chargers and regulators.
  • Hot temperatures can adversely affect the acid, making the gel hard and may shrink away from plates.

Conclusion: Is it Good to Partner Gel Batteries with Solar Panels?

When it comes to solar panels, the most debated type of battery to partnered with solar panels are the Gel battery and AGM batteries. However, not all solar installations are identical, and there are several factors such as climate and discharge demands to consider when choosing what’s the best battery. 

If you’re going to observe, gel batteries remain on top as they provide many benefits to solar users for long-term energy storage. Although gel battery is the most expensive among the lead-acid batteries, it is free from high maintenance, making it still an ideal battery for solar users, particularly for smaller solar projects. 

On the other side, for most residential solar panel installation that requires high energy demand to power its entire household, you may consider exploring lithium-ion batteries like the Tesla Powerwall to cover all the high energy input from a solar panel system.