Solar energy is nothing new , but technological advances mean that humanity can more readily harness solar energy. This article contains solar power information such as the different ways in which solar energy can be harnessed and the advantages of using solar power over other sources of energy.
The sun emits 9×10^24 KW amount of energy in a 24 hour period, that is 66 billion times all the energy consumption of the planet in a year! Energy is emitted from in the form of almost the entire electromagnetic energy spectrum, from x-rays, UV and visible light to radio waves.
Much of the solar energy that reaches the earth is absorbed in the atmosphere before hitting the surface.
Only a small proportion of the suns energy that reaches the earths surface is utilized currently, yet there is more than enough to provide for human energy consumption.
Solar energy is vital for life on Earth; plants harness this energy through photosynthesis and this in turn is converted to energy in the forms of sugars which are used by plants as a food source. Plants in turn are used by animals as a source of food.
Solar energy is used indirectly by humans in many ways these include fossil fuels and wind power as well as a natural heat source.
Methods of using solar power directly include using solar panels (a.k.a. photovoltaic cells), which convert sun light directly to electricity. Sunlight can also be concentrated in solar troughs to boil water and generate electricity through turbines.
There are several advantages to using solar power, which outnumber the disadvantages
- Clean – there are no byproducts that are harmful to the environment, such as carbon dioxide produced from the use of fossil fuels
- Renewable – energy from the sun is an abundant source
- Cheap – once a solar energy producing system is setup, the system will require only little costs in the form of maintenance. Energy from the sun is freely available!
- Require little maintenance
- Quiet – wind turbines on the other hand are noisy
There are disadvantages as follows
- Dependent on the weather – hotter climates benefit much more than moderate climates in solar energy production
- Solar power doesn’t generate energy at night – solar panels require the sun to be out!
- Can be costly to set up initially
Solar power has been harnessed by photovoltaic panels across a wide range: from massive megawatt photovoltaic parks to DIY solar panel sets for home and RV to portable solar panels for recharging of hand-held electronic devices.
Solar power information is becoming increasingly available in the public domain and as a result this technology will continue to grow as people incorporate solar power into their life.