Fortunately for us, we are born in a world where people have discovered and maximized other forms of energy. Fortunately enough for the environment, these forms are renewable energy, and produce no hazardous by-product. Although the agents of non-renewable forms of energy have presented alternatives such as natural gas and clean coal, still the benefits of renewable energy for both man and the environment make it the top choice.
Defining the terms
Simply speaking, renewable energy is a form of energy that is not limited. To further illustrate the point, it is in contrast with non-renewable forms of energy which is limited and may be depleted in the nearest future. Renewable energy are classified as clean energy, because they do not utilize hydrocarbons which when incompletely combusted produce carbon by-products which harm the atmosphere. Non-renewable forms of energy include fossil fuels that are produced from decomposed biodegradable materials which took millions of years to form. They are available only in selected areas of the world and are usually quarried or mined. Different areas also have varying quantities and qualities of fossil fuels.
The Middle East may be rich in good quality oil, while areas in the Pacific may have rich storage of natural gas; other areas may have big quarries of low quality coal, while others will have clean coal. Clean coal is called such because of its capacity to almost completely combust and said to produce less hazardous carbon by-products in contrast to ordinary coal. STCs of fossil fuels may have been determined by big energy cooperatives or companies in order to measure the efficiency of energy generation using such fuel. That however may remain a mystery since less quality would oftentimes mean to less cost, and it would always be a natural resort for businesses to lessen cost to increase profits.
When man discovered renewable energy
Fossil fuels, especially oil has made the world go round. Its other name has been black gold. Two world wars have been waged for its control. It is never a secret that its prices have fluctuated very high these days. It is worth emphasizing that alternatives have been presented, such as natural gas and clean coal, yet governments still crave for oil and oil companies still “technically” rule the world. In the pursuit of lesser energy prices, man used his creativity to discover that he could use solar power, wind turbine power, geothermal energy and other forms of renewable energy to power his machines.
He further discovered that because of his use of fossil fuels, anthropogenic causes are the leading cause of ozone deterioration, greenhouse effect and climate change. Private companies are the ones leading the green revolution while governments conservatively react by creating more coal fired power plants that utilize clean coal. Despite the resistance of most governments, some welfare states managed to insist renewable energy and implemented it.
Standard Test Conditions in Solar Power
Despite renewable energy being very available in our surroundings, the cost of production of the materials used for its generation is high. It may be because of the lesser demand for renewable energy. Let us take for example a solar battery charger. The cost per PV cell maybe expensive but its usual lifetime would be 20-30 years. But in just 1 to 2 years time, you can get back what you have invested for the single module. This is called energy payback. Of course, values from the solar power generated may differ when you arranged your system in parallel or series, or used a central inverter or a microinverter. In the market, where competition is fierce, the same applies in the production of PV modules. There have to be established parameters in order to test the efficiency of each module in comparable conditions. This is where STCs enters center stage.
What are STCs or Standard Test Conditions?
STCs are ideal conditions simulated in a laboratory which try to produce the actual external conditions and measure the performance of the PV cell in these conditions. Simply put in solar power, these parameters try to quantify the amount of solar radiation energy that enters the cell and tries to measure the amount converted into solar power. Standard Test Conditions may be applied in measurement of performance of any other product in the market. This is to further emphasize that renewable energy enters our lives as it enters the market, and it has to compete with non-renewable energy and its manufacturers have to compete within themselves too.
In testing the photovoltaic cell, STC is technically defined as an insulation of 1000 watts per square meter or 1 SUN at 25 degrees Celsius, with a global distribution equal to 1.5 AM or Air Mass. The Air Mass of 1.5 occurs in the Earth in contrast to AM 0 in space. It affects the solar power output by filtering the incoming light thus effecting solar spectrum changes. This is actually the simplest explanation for STCs.
STC and the Power Consumer
There would be no other power consumer but you, fortunate for those who have their own wind turbine at the backyard, or a PV cell at their rooftop, or both, and then they can call themselves power producers. Renewable energy sources did not just give mother earth another chance at a longer life; it also redefined power over power. Did you ever see a residential version of non-renewable energy sources? Imagine your household combusting natural gas or clean coal to provide to the grid. It would be more realistic imagining it with your very own PV cell, inverter, cable and power generator. That is having power over power. Renewable energy diverted power ownership and capital from the big capitalist to the household. It was a shift from oligarchy down to monopoly of the household in its own use of solar power. Standard Testing Conditions were made in order to ensure that your module can efficiently generate solar power from your PV cell. We all never get a chance to test our non-renewable energy sources and have no choice but to trust it to the hands of our government officials and the power producers to do so. Renewable energy is power from nature, powering the people.