The sun, the star of our solar system, is continually transferring energy towards our planet. In fact, more energy from the sun falls on the Earth’s surface in only two hours than all people use in a whole year.
We are becoming better at capturing this massive quantity of energy as technology progresses. Solar energy is presently the fastest-growing source of power in the United States, accounting for almost half of all renewable energy output by 2050.
This section will provide you with all of the information you need to know about this promising renewable energy source.
Solar energy is any sort of energy derived directly from the sun’s beams. In more technical terms, it refers to the collection of solar electromagnetic radiation and its conversion into useable energy in the form of electricity or heat.
Solar power particularly refers to electricity generated by solar energy. Solar energy may be created in two ways:
Photovoltaic systems: Photovoltaic (PV) panels (sometimes known as’solar panels’) directly convert sunlight radiation into electric current.
Concentrating solar power: This method concentrates the sun’s energy using a huge number of unique mirrors. The heat is directed to substances that may make steam, and the steam is then used to operate a power turbine.
The term ‘solar photovoltaic (PV) panels’ refers to the technology utilized by most solar power plants — as well as all houses — to generate electricity using the sun’s radiation.
In 2019, solar power accounted for 1.7 percent of total electricity generation in the United States. This is still a modest fraction, but the Energy Information Administration anticipates rapid growth in solar capacity.
The heat energy from the sun is referred to as solar thermal energy. Solar thermal energy, in its raw form, is the energy source that sustains life on Earth; it maintains livable temperatures and gives energy for plants to flourish.
We now have various new ways to utilise this thermal energy owing to contemporary technology:
Passive solar design: Passive solar design uses the structural features of a building to heat and cool it, reducing the need for high-consumption equipment such as HVACs. This technology is also known as’solar heating and cooling.’
Solar hot water: This is when solar thermal panels are used to heat water kept in a cylinder. A correctly constructed system runs effectively regardless of the outside temperature and can supply the majority of a home’s hot water requirements.
Solar cooking is one of the most basic use of solar technology. Solar ovens may be made of a variety of materials and can achieve temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Solar power has a mystical quality: electrons are drawn from thin air and converted into energy! The procedure is based on simple scientific concepts and is reasonably easy to apply.
Here’s a quick rundown of how it works; first, consider the equipment needed, and then consider how the components interact.
The following are the key components of a solar panel system.
A solar cell is an electrical device that incorporates a semiconductor material — often silicon — that creates electricity when exposed to sun radiation via the photovoltaic effect. Direct current (DC) power is generated by solar cells.
A solar panel is a group of solar cells mounted in a frame and protected by glass. Each solar panel typically has 60-72 solar cells. Photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar modules are other terms for solar panels.
A solar array is a collection of solar panels that have been linked together to form a circuit.
A solar panel system is the entire configuration that generates useable solar energy. It is made up of one or more arrays that are linked to supporting equipment such as mounting and racking, wiring, and a solar inverter. It creates and transfers electricity in a form suitable for consumption, storage, or export to the grid.
After the solar panels, the solar inverter is the most critical component of a solar system. The inverter’s duty is to convert the DC power generated by the solar array into AC electricity that may be utilized locally or supplied to the grid.
The solar panels are installed in an area that receives enough of sunshine.
When the sun shines on them, the solar cells get energized and produce a direct current (DC). The DC current is then sent to the inverter, where it is turned into alternating current power. This alternating current electricity is then either utilized locally (for example, by a residence) or exported to a grid, where it can be distributed to those who want power.
The graphic above depicts the transfer of electricity between devices. The orange arrows depict the operation of the solar panel system, as previously mentioned. Meanwhile, the blue arrows show power imported from the grid, which is beneficial when solar cannot fulfill energy demand, such as at night.
Solar energy is considered renewable since it does not degrade the earth’s finite resources. Using solar energy for heating or power does not deplete its supply; the sun will continue to shine regardless of how much we consume!
Solar energy is also environmentally friendly. Nothing is burnt when solar panels convert sunlight into power, and no pollutants or trash are discharged into the atmosphere.
Because solar is both a sustainable and clean source of energy, it is an important component in humanity’s attempts to address climate change.
It’s worth contrasting solar energy with our typical energy sources, such as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are not renewable: there are only so many of these minerals under the earth, and with each usage, there is less remaining. Worse, coal and natural gas are both polluting. They emit CO2 into the atmosphere when burned to create power, and 97 percent of scientists believe that CO2 emissions are to blame for catastrophic climate change.