Solar energy is energy which receives from the Sun. Solar energy can be converted into thermal or electrical energy. Sun releases energy called photons which travel 93 million miles in 8.5 minutes to reach the Earth. The Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and landmasses absorbed solar energy is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year which is more energy in one hour than the world used in one year. It is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world.
Although many countries have started utilizing solar energy extensively but still, they have to go a long way to exploit this energy to fulfill their daily demand for energy. In the 21st century solar energy is expected to become increasingly attractive as a renewable energy.
You can also read about Wind Energy
Solar Energy Technologies:
There are three main ways to harness solar energy:
- Photovoltaics: Photovoltaics generate electricity directly from sunlight via an electronic process and can be used to power anything from small electronics such as calculators and road signs up to homes and large commercial businesses.
- Solar Heating & Cooling (SHC): Solar heating & cooling (SHC) technologies collect the thermal energy from the sun and use this heat to provide hot water, space heating, cooling, and pool heating for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. These technologies displace the need to use electricity or natural gas.
- Concentrating Solar Power (CSP): Concentrating Solar Power (also called concentrated solar power and concentrated solar thermal) systems generate solar power by using mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area.
You can also read about Hydropower – Water Energy
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Solar panels are constructed from an array of solar cells, known as photovoltaic cells. It is constructed of semiconductors, which absorb sunlight and knock electrons loose. Photovoltaic cells turn sunlight into direct current electricity (DC). Then, an inverter converts the DC electricity into alternating current electricity (AC).
When photons hit a solar cell, they knock electrons loose from their atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity.
The consumption of non-renewable sources like oil, gas, and coal are increasing at an alarming rate. Pollution is also an alarming rate as all these non-renewable sources are responsible for that. Solar energy is the best option as it is completely free and it does not produce any pollutants. It is one of the cleanest sources of energy. It is a renewable source of energy which requires low maintenance and easy to install.