There is a lot of excitement surrounding the use of solar energy as a way to provide a renewable source of energy. Our sun has been producing energy for billions of years; we have been able to take advantage of this for much of human history, but lately we are getting a lot more from this source. This energy that is constantly been pumped out from the sun can now be harnessed and converted into heat and electricity – the sun is providing these things free of charge.
It is quite common for people to use the terms "solar power" and "solar energy" to refer to the same thing but there is a difference. When we talk about solar energy we are referring to any energy we can create using the sun; solar power is a type of solar energy that is used to create electricity. In this article we will focus on the general term solar energy which means the different ways we can harness the sun for our own benefit.
What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy might feel like a relatively new technology but we have been using it for a very long time; for example people in the past have used the suns energy to cook with. In recent times technology has improved and we can do a lot more with solar energy. When we refer to solar energy we are talking about all these uses that we can now get from the sun.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
Solar energy can be used in a number of different ways. It is common to break these down into two main types; thermal energy and those technologies that use the sun to create electricity. Thermal energy can be used to heat homes or even swimming pools. Solar power can be created by technologies such as solar cells/panels. New technologies are appearing all the time that are able to harness the suns energy but the generally fall into one of the two above categories. Sunlight is made up of tiny photons this makes it possible to put it to many beneficial uses.
General Facts about Solar Energy
Here are just a few general facts about solar energy;
- The first photovoltaic cell was created back in 1954 and since that time we have been able to turn solar energy into electricity.
- The biggest solar power plant is situated in the United States in California.
- Life on the planet Earth is actually powered by the sun and we would not be here without it.
Solar Energy Training
These days you will find many online and offline resources offering solar energy training. The reason for this is that this all has exciting for potential to help solve our energy problems. Solar energy is a renewable source and we can really benefit from installing solar panels in our homes.
A solar panel is also referred to as a photovoltaic module. This is a device that can directly change solar energy into electrical power. It is able to do this by taking advantage of the photons in the sunlight; the photons hit the photovoltaic module and when they do so they dislodge atoms in the cell. This dislodgment of atoms means that the holes have to be replaced and all this movement creates electricity. Solar panels work by this constant interaction between the protons from the sunlight and the atoms in the photovoltaic module.
Solar Thermal Systems
Solar thermal systems have been around for a long time but recently we have become a lot more innovative. One good example of a solar thermal system is the solar thermal power plants. These rely on the heat from the sun to cause water to reach high temperatures. This heat is then used to create steam which can then be used to create mechanical energy. So basically any thermal system involves using the sun’s energy to create heat. A small solar thermal system could be used to provide heat directly for our homes so that we can have hot water or even warm up our swimming pool – if we are fortunate enough to have one.
Solar Energy Advantages
The solar energy advantages include the fact that this is a renewable source of energy that will always be available as long as humans exist. If the sun stops producing energy we won’t have to worry because we will no longer be here to worry about it. The advantages of solar power are many but here are just the ones that people get most excited about;
- One we the equipment installed we can then expect many years of free electricity or thermal heat. Our initially investment will start paying off right away. If we are using something like solar panels there should be very little maintenance involved.
- Solar energy is a much greener option which means we are protecting the planet for future generations and making our world a more pleasant place to live. People using solar energy will often feel a sense of pride in the fact that they are leading the way when it comes to alternative sources of energy – something that most governments around the world are keen to encourage.
- In many parts of the world there are financial incentives for those willing to use alternative energy sources like solar power – this can mean that making the change is less of a financial hardship.
Solar Energy Disadvantages
There are a couple of disadvantages associated with choosing solar energy;
- The initial costs of purchasing the technology can be expensive.
- The amount of sunlight available will depend on where you live and the time of year. It might not be practical for some people to choose this type of alternative energy for their home.
Solar Energy Financing
Many governments around the world have expressed their determination to move away from over-reliance on oil. Some have provided cash incentives not only for those researching and industries using the new renewable energy, but also for individual who want to make the move. This is why it may be possible for people to get solar energy financing in the form of a loan or a grant.
Solar Energy for Your Home
Solar energy for your home is certainly something worth considering. For most people the advantages will make the initial investment well worth it – if you can get some type of financing so much the better. This is something well worth looking into because not only will you be benefiting your own life but also the planet as a whole.