About Solar Energy
All life on earth is supported by the sun, which produces an amazing amount of energy. Only a very small percentage of this energy strikes the earth but that is still enough to provide all our needs. This energy can be converted directly or indirectly into other forms of energy, such as heat and electricity and people around the world are using different technologies to harness this gift of Mother Nature for various applications.
Solar heating harnesses the heat of the sun to provide solar thermal energy and then used for water heating, space heating of buildings, drying agricultural products, and generating electrical energy.
Solar energy enables vegetation to grow, and it can also be used to produce electricity by way of photovoltaic. What do we mean by photovoltaic? First used in about 1890, the word has two parts: photo, derived from the Greek word for light, and volt, relating to electricity pioneer Alessandro Volta. So, photovoltaic could literally be translated as light-electricity. And that’s what photovoltaic (PV) materials and devices do — they convert light energy into electrical energy (Photoelectric Effect), as French physic ist Edmond Becquerel discovered as early as 1839.
Commonly known as solar cells, individual PV cells are electricity-producing devices made of semiconductor materials. PV cells come in many sizes and shapes — from smaller than a postage stamp to several inches across. They are often connected together to form PV modules that may be up to several feet long and a few feet wide. Modules, in turn, can be combined and connected to form PV arrays of different sizes and power output as it may be needed. When sunlight shines on photovoltaic cells, it is absorbed and converted directly into electricity without any moving parts.
Deriving energy from the sun offers numerous environmental benefits. It is an extremely clean energy source, and few other power-generating technologies have as little environmental impact as photovoltaics. As it quietly generates electricity from light, PV produces no air pollution or hazardous waste.
Moreover, it does not require liquid or gaseous fuels to be transported or combusted. Also, because its energy source, sunlight, is free and abundant, PV systems can offer virtually guaranteed access to electric power. Also, because its energy source, sunlight, is free, abundant and inexhaustible, PV systems can offer virtually guaranteed access to electric power.
Simple PV systems provide power for many small consumer items, such as calculators and wristwatches. More complicated systems provide power for communications satellites, water pumps, and the lights, electrical appliances, and machines in some people’s homes and workplaces. Roads and traffic signs along highways are may be powered by PV.
Why do people use solar?
- Site Access – A well-designed PV system will operate unattended and requires minimum periodic maintenance. The savings in labor costs and travel expense can be significant.
- Modularity – A PV system can be designed for easy expansion. If the power demand might increase in future years, the ease and cost of increasing the power supply should be considered.
- Fuel Supply – Supplying conventional fuel to the site and storing it can be much more expensive than the fuel itself. Solar energy is delivered free.
- Environment – PV systems create no pollution and generate no waste products.
- Maintenance – Any energy system requires maintenance but experience shows PV systems require less maintenance than other alternatives.
- Durability – Most PV modules available today are based on proven technology that has shown little degradation in over 15 years of operation.
- Cost – For many applications, the advantages of PV systems offset their relatively high initial cost. For a growing number of users, PV is the intelligent choice.
- Quality may cost more initially but will save money in the long run.