What is Solar Energy?

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According to scientific findings, the earth intercepts lots of solar power, 173 trillion terawatts to be specific. That’s literally ten thousand more power than the entire world population utilizes. This validates the fact that the sun is the most plentiful source of energy on the entire globe and that it could one day be the most reliant source of energy.

Traditionally, the world’s electrical needs have been fulfilled by fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal. However, these energy sources have two main negative impacts:

They play a bigger role in global warming and acid rain pollution, which negatively impacts many animals, plants, and humans in the environment.

Few countries have full access to fossil fuel-based energy resources, which can lead to global political and economic instability.

The best alternative is solar energy, which is a renewable resource, meaning it will not become unavailable. It provides an unlimited, steady supply through time. Solar energy is also a green source of energy because it does not emit pollutants during the energy production process.

So, What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy is the energy that is produced by the sun in the form of heat and light. It is one of the most renewable and readily available source of energy on planet Earth. The fact that it is available in plenty and free and does not belong to anybody makes it one of the most important of the non-conventional sources of energy. Solar energy has been used by people since ancient times by using simple magnifying glasses to concentrate the light of the sun into beams so hot they would cause wood to catch fire.

Mainly, Solar energy can be used to convert it into heat energy or it can be converted into electricity. Solar energy is energy harnessed from the sun. It’s harnessed in 2 main ways:

Through production of electricity
This technique utilizes Solar Photovoltaic (PV) devices or solar cells that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Photovoltaic devices produce electricity right from the sunlight through an electronic process that naturally occurs in particular material types known as semiconductors.

Electrons contained in these materials are let loose by solar rays are stimulated to travel via an electronic circuit, sending power to the grid or directly powering electrical devices. This form of energy can be used to power solar watches, calculators or traffic signals. They are often used in locations that are not connected to electricity grid.

Solar collector devices
A solar thermal collector harnesses heat by absorbing the sun rays. This technique harnesses the sun’s energy to heat up water (solar hot water panels) for home use such as water heaters, hot tubs, and swimming pools. The concentrated solar power plants utilize the more complex collectors to produce electricity by heating a liquid to turn a turbine connected to a generator. Simple collectors are normally utilized in commercial and residential buildings for space heating.

The solar energy converted into electricity can be instantly used to power lights or many other devices. Better still, it can be stored in batteries for future use. Solar cells normally generate direct current (DC)-type electricity. However, it can be converted into AC (alternating current) using a device known as an inverter. Solar energy converted into heat energy for the purpose of water heating can be utilized instantly or stored as hot water in tanks to be used later.

Solar energy can be broadly categorized as active or passive solar energy depending on how they are captured and utilized. In active solar energy, special solar heating equipment is used to convert solar energy to heat energy whereas in passive solar energy the mechanical equipment is not present. Active solar include the use of mechanical equipment like photovoltaic cells, solar thermal collectors or pumps and fans to trap the solar energy.

Passive solar technologies convert solar energy to heat energy without use of active mechanical systems. It is mainly the practice of using windows, walls, trees, building placement and other simple techniques to capture or deflect the sun for use. Passive solar heating is a great way to conserve energy and maximizing it’s utilization. An example of passive solar heating is what happens to your car on a hot summer day

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One Response to “What is Solar Energy?”
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