The energy emitted from the sun in the form of light and heat is the solar energy. While most manmade energy sources such as fuel and fossil thermal/electric energy are non-renewable sources, solar energy is the renewable source of primary energy that supports plant and animal life on earth. In this day and age, solar energy is usable with the help of a mechanical process that converts the energy photons received from sunrays into a functional source of energy such as electricity or heat. As of 2011, the solar energy conversion technology through solar cells has fulfilled up to one-hundredth of total global energy demand.
The mechanism behind solar energy conversion:
The energy received in the form of sunrays cannot be directly used for fulfilling the energy demands. However, the rays when received through photovoltaic solar panels or cells, it converts to electro-photons or electrons that can flow through the cell to generate electricity or thermal energy. Passive energy receivers make use of the solar energy to charge the battery for generating heat or power for a short period of time. Solar powdered residential lights work based on this mechanism.
Modern solar electricity generators simply use this technique to receive a concentrated flow of electrons that produce enormous heat source to create steam from boiling water. This steam drives mechanical turbines, which eventually produces electricity. The turbine process is quite popular in both coal and nuclear plants too. Many countries actively use solar-based steam turbines to generate a continuous supply of electricity for thousands of customers.
Many benefits of solar energy:
Based on the requirement of the power supply, the solar energy can be manipulated to create an adequate amount thermal and electrical energy. Here are some benefits of solar energy most other renewable energy sources don’t offer.
Solar energy, unlike the fossil energy sources, supplies renewable and clean power. As a power source, solar energy doesn’t require any fuel combustion or nuclear reactors.
Other renewable energy sources such as nuclear reactors pose a risk of radioactive pollution and contamination. However, solar energy doesn’t present any such risk.
Solar energy is free. Even though this reliable renewable source needs solar panels to generate power, the cost of setting up a solar panel system is lesser than that of any other power plant type or turbine setup.
Solar power usages and applications:
The major use of solar power in a global platform is for residential solar thermal systems. Many developing countries, where the continuous power supply is a major problem, use solar thermal systems for household’s hot water needs. In recent days, small stand-alone solar power grids are gaining popularity too. These powder reactors when connected to the grid can act as power backup sources in case of a temporary power failure.
Landscape solar lights are great alternatives to electric lights. These lights powered by sun-rays feature an uninterrupted glow in the dark.
In the United States, California ranks at number one for generating the maximum solar energy through photo-voltaic solar systems. Recently, highway patrol cruisers in Ohio utilize a 5-watt solar electronic equipment to keep the power on without having the engine running and hence, avoiding gasoline combustion. Solar energy powered backup generators are trending in the U.S. right now.
About the Author
Farryn Campbell owns a small farm that is now solar powered and spends a good majority of her time helping others in her community to live green in her small Pacific Northwest Town. She also enjoys riding horses and hiking the local mountain trails.