Power from the sun – clean and unlimited
The ultimate source energy is the sun which provides the earth with light, heat and radiation. Every hour the sun radiates onto the Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year.
When sun’s energy is harnessed and made useable it is called solar energy. While many technologies derive fuel from one or the other from form of solar energy, there are also technologies that directly transform the sun’s energy into electricity.
Solar energy is our earth’s core source of renewable energy since generating electricity directly from sunlight does not deplete any of the earth’s natural resources and supplies the earth with energy continuously.
Solar energy generating electricity
Photovoltaic devices produce electricity when sunlight strikes them. Electricity generation relies upon chemical processes. When sunlight strikes a PV cell, chemical reactions release electrons, thus generating electric current. Using PV is a cheaper option than new electric lines for providing power to remote locations.
Solar Power Plants – generates electricity when the heat from solar thermal collectors is used to heat a fluid to produces steam that is used for power generation. Use the sun’s heat to generate steam to drive an electric generator.
Solar energy for lighting
Solar cells collect and distribute sunlight to provide illumination. This technology replaces artificial lighting. Solar lights charge during the day and light up at dusk. These are a common sight along walkways.
The environmental impacts
The best part about PV system is they operate without producing air, water or solid wastes. However, manufacturing these cells involve generation of some hazardous material.
When constructed as grid-connected systems, they require considerable amount of land, which can impact existing ecosystems. On the other hand, most PV panels are installed on buildings forming a distributed system that use little or no land.
Similarly solar-plants generate zero air emissions, though some emissions are created during manufacture. Water used for solar thermal plants is extensive.
Major disadvantages of solar energy
The amount of sunlight that arrives at the earth’s surface varies. It changes from location to location, season to season, weather conditions.
The sun is not constant at delivering that much energy to any one place at any one time. Because of which a large surface area is required to collect the energy at a useful rate.
The Future of Solar Energy
Solar energy technology is undergoing significant growth in the 21st century. More research, more architects and common man are recognizing the value of solar energy and learning how to effectively incorporate it into building designs. Solar hot water systems compete efficiently with conventional systems in some areas. As costs of solar PV continue to decline solar systems will be adopted increasingly in the markets.
As the solar industry continues to expand, there will be occasional roadblocks in the road. However these problems will come to an end and solar energy will play an integral role in ending dependence on fossil fuels. Thus bring an end to the threat of global warming, and assuring a future based on clean and sustainable energy.”