What is Solar Power?
Quite simply, Solar Power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. It can happen in two main different ways; directly, using what is called Photovoltaics; or, indirectly, using what is called Concentrated Solar Power. Photovoltaics converts light into an electrical current using certain light sensitive chemicals that produce voltage when exposed to light. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam of concentrated light, which can then produce electricity.
Solar Power Network
The Importance of Solar Power
It is amazing how many toxic gases and harmful by-products are released into the environment every day. Although climate change is a term frequently thrown around now, it seems as if few people are changing anything to help the cause. Solar panels produce electricity by converting the sun’s energy into high temperature heat. How it does this is through various mirror configurations. From there, the heat is then channeled through a conventional generator. There have been numerous studies about solar power. One research study suggests that covering just one percent of the world’s deserts with solar panel arrays could provide one fifth of the world’s electricity current electricity needs. When paired with greenhouses, solar power plants could even grow vegetables and crops by using seawater evaporators to provide humidity and ideal growing conditions. Imagine what this could do for the world if people would act on it.
The use of solar home heating and solar water heating can also have significant positive effects on the environment. Although many homeowners find the expense of installing solar panels too daunting, it should be noted that using solar power to even partially provide for their energy needs will also result in savings on their electrical bill. Embracing solar power also eco-friendly since it doesn’t emit toxic gases into the environment. There are already far too many gases and by-products swirling around in the atmosphere today. The last thing we need to do is add to this.
How Does a Solar Panel Work?
Simply put, a solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic simply means they convert sunlight into electricity. Many cells linked together make up a solar panel. Each photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon, the same stuff used in microelectronics.
There are other types of solar power technology, including solar thermal and Concentrated Solar Power, CSP, which operate in a different fashion than photovoltaic solar panels, but all harness the power of sunlight to either create electricity or to heat water or air.
Photovoltaic Solar Power Cell
Concentrated Solar Power Cell
Where can Solar Panels be Used?
It has been predicted that if solar panels were to be placed across at least one percent the world’s deserts, they would provide for, at least, one-fifth of the electricity needs of earth’s present population. There are also many other places where solar panels can be set up to help provide for the electricity needs of the human population. Old landfills, abandoned plots of land, and even places like old golf courses, no longer in use, can be turned into solar farms. Once such farm was established in California, and it is estimated that it will provide the electricity needs of 160,000 local homes. This says nothing for what individuals can do to save on their electrical bill in their own homes, while at the same providing for a healthier environment. Homes around the country, and around the world, can be easily outfitted solar panels sized to fit the home that they are being installed on.
For the average home, though the installation process can be expensive, a solar power generation system can dramatically reduce a person’s expenses on a conventional electricity bill; so much so, that it is estimated that the cost of installation can be recovered within only a few short years. Then, the power savings and positive reverb on the environment just roll in. Imagine the positive investments that can be made with the extra money one will have. Such capital increases could lead to the expansion of one’s solar power network, especially if they live on a large plot of land, to the point that they can are able to live completely independent of their local electricity provider.