On the Subject of Self-Tracking Solar Panels

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“Going green” has become increasingly popular. Solar panels are used throughout the world, but don’t produce nearly enough of the energy that they potentially could. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the efficiency of current commercial solar panels hovers from 11-15%, making it costly to produce enough energy for the world’s needs. The main barriers to widespread adoption of photovoltaic technology are installation costs, low efficiency and the limited number of peak hours (maximum amount of sunlight absorbed). In order to lift these barriers, current solar panels should have tracking systems added to them. With such a system, a solar panel could sense where the direction of sunlight is coming from, continually track it throughout the day with two-axis of movement, and do so autonomously (with little to no maintenance). The amount of energy produced would increase exponentially and costs would decline, benefiting the consumer and the world at large. Solar panels are costly to install because they must be placed in the perfect orientation in order to absorb the maximum amount of sunlight. Factors such as shading, weather, and the movement of the Sun must be taken into consideration when installing a solar panel. However, with a tracking system, determining the perfect area and orientation for a solar panel would become unnecessary because the panel itself would track the sun autonomously, resulting in lower installation costs. In addition, trackers (solar panels with a tracking system) have control systems that allow the user to move the panel north or south and east or west. This is extremely useful for removing snow or debris from the solar panel and preventing the solar panel from being damaged by extremely high winds. Since trackers have such an easy interface for maintaining solar panels, maintenance costs would decrease drastically. The main issue with current solar panels is their extremely low efficiency. Because solar panels

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