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    Solar

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Spain

What is Solar Energy in Italy?

The solar energy in Italy has seen a major surge in this industry among other European countries such as Germany, Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands.

In July 2005, the country started its first “Conto Energia” program to support the development of renewable power, and the result so far has been remarkable. In 2018, Italy added solar PV capacity of 437 MW, and its PV market grew by 7%.

The major driving factor in the Italian PV market has been solar rooftops, and the number of solar installation projects with more than 1 MW capacity increased in in 2017 and 2018.

Italy is considered the country of sunshine which makes the nation very favourable for the installations of solar energy production plants and farms. In Central-Southern Italy, the annual solar radiation can range from 4.7 kWh per square metre per day, and 5.4 kWh per square metre per day in Sicily. While the other regions also have a very high solar energy production potential making Italy one of the leading countries for the production of solar energy, as well as in the sector of research and technological innovation.

The solar energy in Italy has seen a major surge in this industry among other European countries such as Germany, Turkey, Spain, and the Netherlands. Italy’s PV market is known as one of the photovoltaic markets that definitely deserve a place in the solar energy spotlight. In fact, during the first ten years of the new millennium, Italy was on the third spot after Germany and Spain to experience a significant boom in solar installations after encouraging the citizen through government incentives. This made most of the manufacturers and citizens embrace and support solar power.

In 2010, The Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station was completed and it is considered the largest photovoltaic power station in Italy with 85 MW solar capacity. Along with this largest PV power station, there are also other large PV plants like Cellino San Marco with 42.7 MW capacity, San Bellino with 70.6 MW capacity, and Sant’ Alberto with solar capacity of 34.6 MW.

Aside from conventional solar PV technology, Italy is also known for its developing concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. To function efficiently, this concentrated solar technology requires higher direct solar irradiation, which makes the country suitable for this technique as Italy has more exposure to sunlight. Furthermore, the southern regions including the islands of Sardinia and Sicily also offer good conditions for CSP technology, the reason why the Italian government provided large investments to promote this solar power development.

Currently, there are three solar plants running in the country. The first one is the Archimede solar plant, which was installed on the island of Sicily in 2010, attaining a solar capacity of 5 MW. Moreover, planning and promotion for the CSP technology will undergo several additional projects which would add another solar capacity of 360 MW, annually.

As of now, Italy for being known as “sunshine-blessed” country is currently the second-largest market in Europe in terms of installed solar power generation capacity. Which then, achieved over 20 GW of photovoltaic (PV) power plants in 2018. This year, the Italian solar power market is expected to enter a new series of growth, particularly investing in “grid parity” projects that mostly rely on corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs).

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.