Terajoules of solar energy striking Earth
Globally this year
Every day, our powerful sun beams energy onto our planet – energy that can be harnessed to provide the planet with free, clean and renewable energy.
So, why aren’t we using it instead of getting our energy from dirty fossil fuel?
With the threat of Global Warming, you’d think we’d be scrambling for a more environmental friendly energy source. The technology is here and it’s being utilized by some countries. But as of today, our solar technology is able to produce only 1/10 of 1% of the global energy demand.
Here are some solar energy information and facts to get you started:
We have been using the power of sunlight for a long time for basic needs such as drying our clothes, dehydrating food, heating and others. The sun’s heat and light can be used for much more important things than that – such as providing the planet with electricity.
Much of the cause of global warming is due to the amount of fossil fuel that we burn to meet our ever growing energy needs. Solar energy is cleaner to produce and use and along with wind and hydro energy, it is our hope to reverse the continuous degradation of our atmosphere.
You’ve heard of solar panels and solar cells. The most basic solar cell can be found in calculators. One solar cell is not capable of generating much electricity, so they are connected together to form a solar panel. A collection of solar panels make up a solar array. The number of solar panels required and the size of the solar array depends on how much electricity needs to be generated. The solar panels are then positioned to gather as much light as possible.
The panels are designed to convert light to direct current (DC) electricity. The electricity we use in our homes and buildings run on alternating current (AC). So, for practical use, an inverter needs to be connected to the solar array and this turns the electricity to the required voltage and AC.
Aside from being a free, clean and renewable energy, solar energy allows people and communities who live far from the conventional power grid to enjoy electricity for a low price. Solar Energy is a versatile source of power in that regard. It can provide power to a remote area in the desert just as easily as in a city.
Solar panels require very little maintenance. Once installed, they are very durable and reliable. It has no moving parts that can break down. It is noise free and does not release toxic substances in the atmosphere.
Homes that have their own solar panels don’t need to worry about blackouts and price hikes. Federal governments have also introduced tax credits to individuals and companies that invest in solar power and other clean energy systems.
Solar power is of course not available at night and is reduced on cloudy days. Since it’s an intermittent energy, it needs to be stored in batteries which can take up space.
Although solar technology is improving and the cost of installing a system is going down, a solar panel can still be expensive for the average individual. Solar power stations still do not have the same output as conventional power stations and costs more to build. Even today’s most efficient solar cells convert only 20% of the sun’s power to electricity.
Despite the disadvantage of solar technologies at the present time, the prospect of a free and renewable energy will move scientists and governments to continue developing new ideas to make it more practical for the average consumer in the future. The US, Japan, Australia, Europe and Spain are some of the countries leading the way.
With the continuing rise of petroleum costs, solar energy will be a more cost-efficient option soon. There was a time when solar power was an idea entertained only by the very rich or a serious environmentalist. But now, it is being used by more people in their homes. It’s a great leap forward.
People talk about Return on Investments (ROI). How long will it take a consumer to recover the costs of installing a solar power system vs. their actual energy savings? It’s a clean, cheap and renewable energy that doesn’t pollute our environment and will probably stop global warming . Doesn’t that fact make it a good investment?
Read more about our environment and the latest global issues at The World Counts: Stories. It’s your world too, and you have a right to know.
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