What is Solar Energy?
Solar energy, by definition, is an alternative energy source which uses the bright light of the sun and converts it to electricity. It is much the same with wind and water energy source but the only difference is where and how it gathers the power.
Due to technology and science, it has become easier for companies and houses to acquire this source of energy that is why more and more businesses and homeowners are using this to lower their utility bills. It is known to be capable of powering almost every house appliance like, stove, air conditioning system, refrigerator and even heating systems. In this day and age, cars can also be powered by solar energy, although much research and experiments are still needed to make it available publicly.
Before, installation of solar energy systems are expensive, however, as the 21st century entered, it became cheaper as more companies build solar panels, thus, more people choose this as a source of electric power. Aside from its cost-efficiency, solar energy is also very viable and since it is renewable, it is easily available.
Solar Energy Facts, Events, Timeline and History
The first solar energy application was in 1958 when solar energy used to power the Vanguard I Satellite. With the help of the solar cells, the satellite was able to continue with its transmission even after a year that its chemical battery died. The success of its use brought forth other satellites from the Soviet and America to use it. In the 1960s, the photovoltaic cells became the main power source for them.
The oil crisis of 1973 caused companies to produce more PV cells and this also became the reason behind the decrease of the price of solar cells and other solar-powered kits. Then in the 1990s, the popularity of this technology slowly shifted to Japan and Europe as the Japanese government increased funding to produce more materials and to create a metering method.
After 2007, Spain became the country with the highest number of population to use photovoltaics. The country posted an installation rate of 45% of the whole world’s numbers.
In the commercial and industrial scenes, commercial concentrated solar power plants came into being in the 1980s with the 354 MW SEGS CSP installation in Mojave Desert in California (CA).
Then in Canada, the largest photovoltaic plant, the 97 MW Sarnia Photovoltaic Power Plant was built as well. It is also predicted that the use of this energy from the sun will be more developed and stronger in between the 22nd- 24th century.
People advocating the use of solar power in homes and industries are also active in promoting this environment-friendly energy source. The conference and activity, 2009 Solar Fiesta which was sponsored by New Mexico Solar Energy Association, was able to spread the word about the apparent benefits of using solar energy through workshops, design exhibits, pictures, some diagram, video and magazine articles. There were also activities for kids which made them learn how solar power works.
Other ways of info dissemination for the conference is a mock lesson and mock laboratory. Solar power manufacturers were also asked to join as sponsors and there they were also allowed to give information on the origin of solar power and how the manufacturing process happens. Green jobs discussions were held to explain opportunities for people in this green sector.
These activities made an impact to the society that is why other events followed suit such as the Solar Power International, Solar Energy Fair and the Solar Power UK Conference and Exhibition 2011. The latest event for this industry is European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition also to be held this year.
Additionally, videos, books and magazines are given out to help people know more about this alternative energy source. One of the most popular books is entitled ” Solar Energy Projects for the Evil Genius” and “Solar Energy”, the official journal of ISES or International Solar Energy Society.
How Does Solar Energy Work?
This alternative form of energy uses photovoltaic tiles that convert the energy of sunlight to electricity. These cells are thin slices of glass that have positive and negative slices of silicon. As the protons of sunlight go to the cells, they remove the neutrons off the silicon and these neutrons which are already negatively charged are attracted to the silicon, but they are trapped by the opposing field’s magnetic field. Then the small wires on the silicon catch the neutrons. These wires, which are connected in a circuit, forms electric current. This current is called direct current that must still run through an inverter so that it can be converted to alternating current to enable it to power our homes.
There are several ways of u of utilizing solar power to provide energy for your home or place of business. You may choose any of these alternatives. Choosing one may depend on how much you want to save and spend for your energy source. The biggest aspect other than the panels are the batteries or other forms of storing the electricity created by the solar panels for use at a later time. Tesla solar battery storage is a new option that is affordable as well as easy to use.
Grid and Tie-In Systems – This is like having a hybrid power source. You use the solar power for items that use less energy like lights and other small appliances while using the power from an electrical company for big appliances like dryer and air condition. With this system, you’re only going to use a small solar panel or solar system kit because it’s going to generate a small amount of energy.
Portable. This kind of unit can be used anywhere and is popular for hikers and those who like outdoor activities as they can be used for items such as radio, stove and lights. It is usually composed of an inverter and a battery.
Pure Solar System. This is the the more expensive kind since you will need the large units in order to make it work. This means you rely solely on solar energy to power up your home.
Composition and Information About Solar Energy Panels
Photovoltaic is the other name for solar cells. It is the one producing energy out of the light from the sun it receives. There are various types of solar power technologies but they are still undergoing development by companies such as the Fraunhofer Institute. However, there are technologies that are already in use like the crystalline silicon, concentrators, thermophotovoltaic solar cell and thin films.
Crystalline silicon. These cells contain two layers, positive layer on the top side while the negative layer is at the bottom. This involves an AC to DC conversion process to produce output. There are also two types of this crystalline silicon panel : monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The most commonly used is monocrystalline which is more powerful than the polycrystalline.
A silicon cell can be used for wrist watch and calculator while modules of silicon cells are required to be connected together in order to work for bigger places or appliances and arrays of modules are being used for satellite power generation.
Other Solar Energy Systems
Concentrators work similar to how a magnifying glass work. It gathers light from the sun and concentrating it to fall on solar cells. This process produces maximum energy. These kinds of cells are used in high technology industries like satellite and space projects because of their accuracy as these usually use a tracking device so the direction of the beam created is spot on.
Thermophotovoltaic solar cells produces a different kind of electricity, thermal heat being converted to electricity. It works like photovoltaic cells, the difference is just these thermophotovoltaic cells use semiconductors that gather invisible light or infrared rays and convert them to energy. The main advantage of this kind of cell, is that it not only uses sun as its source but also anything that has heat.
Thin Films, the lightest type of solar equipment is also very efficient, converting over 90% of solar energy to electricity using amorphous silicon thin film. Thin films are not made individually but they are produced in modules and joined together to create the unit. This process makes thin films effective.
The Benefits of Residential Solar Energy
Solar energy, through the years, has been beneficial for industries and businesses alike. Because of its effectiveness, it also became interesting for residential energy providers and ordinary people. With the economic condition and uncertain future, people would value good ways of saving some money. Utilizing a solar panel at home to bring down the costs of utilities is one of the best ways to economize.
Besides cost-efficiency, this source of energy offers several other advantages. First, its capacity to supply power to homes without costing too much per kilo watt hour (Kwh) and without harming the environment mean a lot in protecting the environment. It is not generating carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury, thus, it does not contribute to global warming and green house gas.
Another advantage of this power source is it is low-maintenance. Solar power equipment can last for decades if an installer did his job properly. It also requires less attention and does not emit bad smell or does not require refueling, unlike other nonrenewable sources of energy. Aside from that, one of the leading reasons to install solar devices is its portability and independence. You can make it an electrical source even if you’re outside the home. Having fun and games while in an RV vacation or making school experiments work is free and easy when you have a portable solar device on hand. It also does not take a genius to make your appliances work with this energy source because once installers already put the main unit up, it is already do-it-yourself (DIY). You can even build your own homemade solar with the help of instructional videos, many of which you can find online.
Installing a solar panel as a power source for your house is just like investing. You spend a large amount of money at first but once it has been set up and you are already getting away with paying your monthly electric bill, it’s all worth it already. This is great in comparison with having to pay the electric company without getting any return of investment in the end.
Further Look at Pros and Cons
Other than the basic advantages, there are other benefits that solar power customers can take advantage of. The US government is also supporting solar energy. It grants tax credits to the American public for sourcing their electricity from solar companies. Rebates or incentives are known to be about 10 to 30 percent of the system cost’s figures. If you have built a big solar panel which is more than enough for your household, there is an opportunity for you to get passive income for it.
Electric companies will be willing to buy some kwh from you to be sold to your neighbors or anywhere near your area. You may talk to a consultant from an electric company about the credit they are willing to give you if you sell some of the energy your devices or equipments generate.
The existence and use of solar power also means that electricity will be traded in a fair manner because there will be competition in the industry, forcing the other electrical companies to decrease their prices to what is just.
This energy source has also gained popularity among institutions of education. Besides being used to supply power to some of these schools, it is also widely used as an educational tool and is often made part of the projects and programs especially of students with science courses because of its portability and the convenience it provides. Solar powered things and equipments in diagrams and project samples are always present in science fairs and exhibit because this technology has been proven to be a great training course or program and also a great resource for research.
If there are benefits, there are also drawbacks in using solar energy. One of its negative aspects is the starting cost. Because new solar panel stocks are quite expensive and getting someone to install it would also cost much, most people would hesitate to have it set up. The next disadvantage is the amount of space that the solar product will take as it needs a rather large site in order to achieve maximum efficiency. With this in mind, you need to plan it well and it might take some time, that’s why there are some who do not continue with their plans to set up a solar panel if they lack the needed resources to do so.
If the sun is its major source of power, the sun could also be the major cause of the problem, that is, if it does not show up. When there is no sun, such as at night, the devices cannot produce energy. Energy production can also be hampered during cloudy or rainy days. Don’t worry, though. This can easily be solved by preparing a battery stock.
Companies and their Products – Plants and Regulating Bodies
There are a lot of “solar penny” stocks on sale in the market, but before you buy them, you must have sufficient informations of what products these companies are selling and what are the companies selling them. And even if you are not looking for prospects for your portfolio, it is just good to know what companies are offering solar panel kits and items in case you would need these things in the future.
Sundance Solar is an online store that sells all solar products ranging from solar picture paper kit to solar chargers and solar RVs. Solar Storage and My Solar Shop specialize in solar panels and grid sales while Sy Solar Appliance Limited is a company based in China that sells solar collector, solar water heater and other solar appliances and Solar E-Clips and South Bay Solar sell outdoor solar lighting systems in the USA that use hot water systems Townsville.
In the United States, companies offering solar power are steadily growing. In California alone, there are quite a large number of solar power providers. Here is a list of some of them : Solyndra Incorporated in Fremont, San Diego Solar Power, San Francisco Solar Power and Solar Power Solutions San Jose. Meanwhile in other states, there’s Solar Blue in Florida, Chicago Solar Energy, Colorado Solar Inc in Denver, Georgia Solar Power, Hawaii Solar, NJ Solar Power, Massachusetts Solar Power (MA), PA Solar in Pennsylvania, Maine Solar, Maryland Solar Solutions, Michigan Solar Solutions (MI), Tennessee Solar Solutions, New Jersey Solar Power, New York Solar Solutions and Mr. Sun Solar in Portland.
Overseas, this source of energy is also gradually gaining acceptance. Australia has Beacon Solar as the biggest company that provides solar energy to the country, followed by Genesis Solar Group. Tata BP Solar India Ltd. leads India’s national solar industry while Southern and Northern Solar provides energy to areas in UK.
Because solar energy impacts the economy and society it became imperative to have associations and regulating bodies that grant certificates, guidelines and regulations to energy providers. One of the most popular regulating bodies is FSEC or Florida Solar Energy Center. Texas also has quite a few of them; two of these are Solar Austin and Solar Houston Initiative, both non-profit organizations relating to solar energy.
If you are looking for an article about this energy source, you can visit their websites which feature numerous articles and news about the topic. Meanwhile, Illinois, Arizona and Utah also have active organizations which also aim to accelerate people’s knowledge about renewable energy.
As per research and studies made by institutions, solar power is the future of energy. As the prices of oil and gas increase, the demand for alternative energy is also increasing. Not only that, the need to take care of the environment is also becoming important to the point that the government is already promoting and giving out incentives for people who could do their share in environmental initiatives. With this in mind, solar power as your energy source is a great investment to start today.