Solar power is a reusable source of energy that comes from the sun. Not only is solar energy the amplest energy resource, but also the cleanest energy resource on the planet. Thermal or electrical energy from the sun is transformed into a source of usable power through various methods. It is a promising solution for addressing the oil shortages that are driving the energy crisis.
There are two primary ways to use energy from the sun. Photovoltaic solar panels use the sun’s rays to directly generate electricity that can be used to power electronics through a process called the photovoltaic effect. Energy is created as a result of electrons becoming loose, which produces an electric current. The current is captured by wiring, which stores the energy for later use.
Another method of obtaining energy is by using heat as a direct source of power. This method comes in three forms. Low-temperature energy systems are used to heat and cool the climate. Mid-temperature energy systems collect heat from the sun on the roof of a home. In this method, heat is transferred to the water system, eradicating the need for traditional water heating tactics. Lastly, high-temperature energy systems, also called concentrated solar power, are used to create electricity in large scales and are typically found in a solar thermal energy plant. In this method, mirrors are used to center sun rays on a tube full of liquids that retain heat. This heated material is then used to make steam from water that can be used to generate electricity.
The economic benefits of solar energy have propelled this method into popularity. These systems do not produce toxic pollutants, therefore minimizing any dangerous environmental effects. However, there are a few limitations. Thermal energy relies on the amount of sunlight, and this is not always constant. Furthermore, the amount of sunlight that actually reaches the earth is minute – to collect enough usable energy would require large surface areas that could absorb a lot of light. Other variables that impede the ability to absorb thermal energy include geographical location, the time of the day, the presence of clouds, and the amount of land that is available. For example, areas closest to the equator receive the greatest amount of solar radiation, whereas areas that are constantly cloudy receive less. This occurs because the clouds restrict the amount of light accessible for absorption by solar cells.
The future of solar energy is bright, especially as the price of oil increases and oil shortages prevail. Renewable energy sources are the solution to these economic problems. There are many advantages to solar power, most notably the lack of pollution and health hazards. The magnitude of available thermal energy makes it an extremely attractive energy resource on a global scale. The biggest benefit? As long as the sun shines there will always be usable energy.