Sustainable Architecture’s View on Solar Panels

For decades, controversy and solar energy have gone in tandem. Recently, the level of controversy surrounding solar energy has hit a new peak due to new legislation passed in Nevada and proposed in Utah in March 2016.

Whether in our public works architecture or sustainable architecture project, SH Architecture utilizes solar energy when we can. Solar energy does not harm our beautiful and delicate environments. Additionally, solar energy is a solution that addresses the global problem of climate change.

You may wonder, however, how does solar energy actually work? What is the big deal behind it? As the topic of solar energy becomes harder to ignore, we find it conducive for energy consumers to understand what solar energy is and why it is a better alternative to traditional energy sources.

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is taking the sun’s rays and converting them into clean, efficient energy. This is done using photovoltaic cells, also known as PV cells. PV cells are composed of semiconductors, the most common one being silicon. These cells are placed together into a frame, which all together creates a conventional solar panel. Multiple solar panels are collected together to create a solar array.

a solar panel soaking up the sunlight.

a solar panel soaking up the sunlight.

When sunlight hits a PV cell, a portion of it is absorbed and transferred into the semiconductor. Electrons escape and are collected in the cell, which then converts into power. This is a broad explanation of how a solar panel works. A more detailed description of how solar energy works can be found here.

Solar Energy vs. Fossil Fuels

The overall goal of traditional and solar power is to provide energy to people and to lessen the energy crisis affecting the United States and the world. However, the process that will actually reduce this crisis is heavily debated. Do we continue to harm the environment through fracking for natural gas? Should we continue mining for coal, a finite resource, and burn it, thus creating pollution? Or, do we construct multiple solar arrays on large plots of unused land basking in sunlight, such as a desert or mountainous terrain, in order to collect this energy?

While this may seem like a no-brainer, the biggest issue affecting solar power and energy consumers is the efficiency of traditional PV cell solar panels. Variables such as weather, shade or how your private or public works architecture project is slanted towards the sun come into factor, which affects solar panel efficiency.

Additionally, not all the sunlight that hits a solar panel is collected, only a portion. This means you’d need to place more solar panels to create enough power for a building’s needs. Luckily, researchers are on the way of creating a more efficient solar panel. And as more people invest in solar energy, efficiency can increase to a point of relying less on fossil fuels.

This will, in turn, protect the environment, reduce everyone’s carbon footprint, and lead to cities becoming eco-friendly and sustainable architecture bastions.

Sustainable Architecture and Solar

If you are interested in sustainable architecture or public works, contact SH Architecture today. We have architecture firms in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, both looking forward to making the building of your dreams a reality.


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